If you had to pick just one shot from the past year what would it be? For some their minds will quickly slip back to the Scottish Open at Renaissance where Rory McIlroy and Bob MacIntyre both hit brilliant shots into the 72nd hole. At Augusta Sahith Theegala chipped in, Tiger style, from the back of the 16th and Jon Rahm has almost hit too many to list here.
Then we have Carlota Ciganda at the Solheim Cup, Michael Block's hole-in-one at the PGA and Viktor Hovland had a hole-in-one (of sorts) in a Ryder Cup practice round. But, if you were to narrow it down, then the Norwegian's chip-in on the very 1st hole of the match proper would have to be right up there.
After winning his first PGA Tour title Hovland admitted 'I just suck at chipping' as he continued to chunk a lot of shots around the green. Then, as it looked to be a real problem if he was to be a genuine major contender, he made some serious strides with his short game.
“Yeah, basically been trying to essentially rotate my forearms a little bit in the backswing so I can get that clubface to open up, get it more essentially on plane so then I can use the bounce coming through on a lot of different shots,” he said. “In the past the first move has just been exposing the leading edge and it’s just going to dig every single time.”
In the past two years Hovland's chipping has been like night and day compared to those decelerations and missed greens from 10 yards and at the Ryder Cup we got to witness one of the best shots in the competition. And we didn't have to wait very long at all.
In the second match of the morning foursomes Ludvig Aberg, who was playing college golf just a few months earlier, had found the 1st green but his approach would finish 50 feet away on the edge of the green and underneath a ridge. It was possible to putt it but, if you did want to get it close, then you would have to chip it. There was also at least 10 feet of break on the shot.
Which Hovland did... a year or so ago this would never have happened. How easy it would have been to make a mess of it, your first chip of the day in a match you've been waiting two years to play.
Indeed Hovland's chipping might have deteriorated to the point that he wouldn't even be risked in the foursomes but he's very much now sorted it.
If anything set the tone for that famous morning it was this. Not one match reached the 18th hole and all four matches went the European way. Back on the tee Shane Lowry, who was in the next match out, probably enjoyed it as much as anyone. Very quickly there was a lot of blue on the board and it all started here.