Mastering the Moments

The little tournament at Augusta produces roars like no other for some players and cringe-worthy silence for others
By Joel Beers
Augusta National Golf Club’s annual April ode to golf at its finest has also had some moments that players would just as soon forget.
But one thing is certain. The Masters is the must-see event on the calendar for golf fans and the tournament that players look forward to the instant they know they’re in the field. The fact it’s the only major played on the same course every year makes the 18 holes at Augusta the most recognizable on Earth with its distinctive fairways, blooming azaleas and diabolical greens.
Therefore, it’s no surprise that it’s been the site of some of the most memorable moments in the annals of professional golf.
Here are 10 of the greatest:
1935: The Masters wasn’t televised until 1960, but Gene Sarazen’s “shot heard ’round the world” didn’t need on-air canonization. Sarazen’s double eagle on the 15th hole, a 235-yard shot with a 4-wood, helped force a tie with Craig Wood. Sarazen won the 36-hole playoff.
1953: Ben Hogan won nine majors, including two Masters, but this was his most dominant. He shot a 14-under 274 and won by five strokes – both records at the time. Hogan added the U.S. Open and British Open that year and, had the PGA Championship not conflicted with the British, it’s conceivable he would have claimed the PGA Tour’s first grand slam. As it is, Hogan remains the only player to have won those three majors in the same calendar year.
1978: Gary Player saved his best for last. Trailing Hubert Green by seven shots, Player, 42, shot a 30 on the back nine of his Sunday 64 – the lowest final round in tournament history. It was the ninth, and last, major in Player’s storied career.
1986: Jack Nicklaus was 46 and 11 years removed from his last Masters victory. He began the final round in ninth place and four strokes off the lead. Few expected much. But birdies on 9, 10 and 11 woke up the gallery. An eagle on 15 and birdies on 16 and 17 had them roaring. After a par on the finishing hole, Nicklaus settled into Butler Cabin and waited. After Greg Norman bogeyed the 18th hole, Nicklaus donned his sixth green jacket and won his 18th major championship.
1987: Larry Mize, the David playing alongside Goliaths Seve Ballesteros and Greg Norman, was outclassed on paper in the three-man playoff. But Ballesteros 3-putted the first extra hole, which left only Norman and Mize. On the second playoff hole, Mize hit one of the greatest shots in golf history, a 140-foot chip that took three bounces before rolling into the cup on the 11th green.
1995: Just days after burying his long-time instructor, Harvey Pennick, Ben Crenshaw won his second Masters in an emotional finish. It was the last victory for Crenshaw on the PGA Tour.
1997: It’s not just that Tiger Woods became the first African-American to win the Masters, or that, at 21, he was the youngest winner. It’s the way he did it, finishing 12 strokes ahead of Tom Kite for the largest margin of victory in tournament history. His four-day total of 270, or 18-under par, also broke the record of 17 under held by Jack Nicklaus and Raymond Floyd.
2004: After 17 top-10 finishes in 42 majors, it seemed the seal would never break for Phil Mickelson. But after watching Chris DiMarco miss a putt on the 18th hole in the final round, Lefty, on the same line, nailed an 18-footer to finally get that chattering monkey off his back.
2005: Battling DiMarco, Woods aimed his chip 20 feet left of the hole at No. 16. The ball rolled and rolled and then seemed to stop on the lip of the cup. But then it crept over the lip, giving Woods a birdie and the patrons a reason to scream. The tournament wasn’t decided until the first hole of the playoff, where Woods won, but that half rotation of his Nike ball was the impetus to getting the job done.
Here are 5 moments we’d like to forget:
1961: Leading by a stroke and thinking his second shot was safely on the green as he walked up the 18th fairway on the final day, Arnold Palmer accepted congratulations from a friend in the gallery. However, he found himself in a greenside bunker and made double bogey, handing the title to Gary Player.
1968: After Bob Goalby rallied to catch Roberto De Vicenzo and seemingly force a playoff, a little bit of paperwork remained. De Vicenzo’s scorecard, marked by Tommy Aaron, showed him making a 4 at No. 17 instead of the 3 he actually made. But since De Vicenzo signed the card, the rules of golf (not even the Masters dares violate those) mandated the higher score be official.
1979: With a three-shot lead and three holes to play, Ed Sneed bogeyed them all and lost in a playoff – along with Tom Watson – to Fuzzy Zoeller in the tournament’s first-ever sudden-death playoff.
1989: Scott Hoch sniffed redemption on the first hole of his playoff with Nick Faldo. After bogeying No. 17 and missing a birdie putt at 18 in regulation, Hoch stood over a 2-foot putt that would win him his first major title. But he missed, and Faldo won with a birdie on the next hole.
1996: He’s known as The Shark, but Aussie Greg Norman was snake-bit at the Masters – posting five top-five finishes but never claiming a green jacket. After shooting a 63 in the first round, Norman held a six-stroke lead over Faldo heading into Sunday where he imploded with bogeys on 9, 10 and 11, a double bogey on 12 and a water ball on 16. Faldo, who shot a 67, won by five strokes.

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