Top 5 moments that made Masters tournaments of years past

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On March 13, Fred Ripley, Augusta National Golf Club chairman, delivered a statement regarding the status of the annual Masters Tournament in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Considering the latest information and expert analysis, we have decided at this time to postpone the Masters Tournament,” Ripley said.

This means for us —  the spectators — that we will have to wait at least a few more months to feel that cool Augusta breeze from our couches.

But the Masters is more than just a golf tournament. It’s a four-day weekend full of intensity, unwavering patience and, naturally, jaw-dropping history. 

As we wait for future updates regarding the tournament, we reflect on the top five most notable moments from the Masters tournaments of years past.

 

Honorable Mentions

The Tiger Woods chip, 2005

Called by the impeccable Verne Lundquist, Tiger Woods’ famous chip-in in 2005 on the 16th just missed the top five cut on this list. Chasing glory for the second time in his career, Woods needed some heroic insurance on the 16th. Nursing a one-shot lead over Chris DiMarco, Woods sank a seemingly impossible chip shot that lingered on the edge of the hole for nearly a century. From this, Woods birdied and went on to win his second green jacket.

 

Mickelson’s first major, 2004 

In 2004, Phil Mickelson finally achieved greatness on the greens of Augusta by shooting 31 on the back nine on Sunday. Sinking a beautiful birdie on the 18th, Mickelson charged back and went bogey-free on the final nine holes, defeating a red-hot Ernie Els in one of the most exciting finishes ever.

 

5.) Bubba’s snap-hook, 2012

It seemed doubtful that Bubba Watson could muster up the confidence to launch a shot close to the pin after he found himself in the woods on the second playoff hole in the 2012 edition of the Masters, but Watson did just that. From about 150 yards away among the trees on a par-4, Watson snap-hooked a wedge shot which had nearly 40 yards of movement to put himself in prime real estate to win his first green jacket.

 

4.) Arnold Palmer birdies twice to win, 1960

Before he was “The King,” Arnold Palmer was a 30-year-old chasing his second Masters victory on the grounds in Augusta. As Palmer entered the 16th hole on Sunday, Ken Venturi was already in the clubhouse with a one-stroke lead. Palmer sank a 20-foot birdie on the 17th to bring the leaderboard square. Needing a birdie to take home his second jacket, Palmer let loose an iron shot that put him four feet from immortality. Palmer putted in another birdie again on the 18th to seal the victory and complete his late surge.

 

3.) Tiger becomes youngest Masters champion, 1997

As if it wasn’t enough that Woods set the course record in his first major championship victory (-18), he also broke the record for margin of victory as well in the 1997 Masters Tournament (12 strokes). These are just the headliners of Woods’ remarkable outing, as he finished the tournament tying or setting a ridiculous 27 Masters records in one weekend. At just the age of 21, Woods became the youngest golfer ever to win the Masters, and the first nonwhite athlete to do so.

 

2.) Jack Nicklaus’ late surge, 1986 

Competing against some of the greats such as Gary Player, Arnold Palmer and Greg Norman, Jack Nicklaus provided a historic comeback at the ripe age of 46 in the tournament’s 50th year. With substandard scores of 74 and 71 the first two days, Nicklaus was written off early. On day three, Nicklaus shot 69, but his last day proved to be one of his greatest finishes in his career. With nine holes left Sunday, Nicklaus notched three straight birdies on the ninth, 10, and 11th. He buried  an eagle on the 15th, a birdie on the 16th and 17th, and parred the final hole finishing the back nine with a score of 30. Greg Norman, who led before Nicklaus’ final tear, only needed a par on the 18th. He bogeyed. Nicklaus provided one of the greatest comebacks in PGA history and captured his sixth green jacket.

 

1.) Tiger’s 2019 victory

One could only wonder how he’d made it this far 14 years after his last win in Augusta. You truly couldn’t write the script for what is quite possibly the greatest comeback in sports history. On the final day, Tiger dropped a birdie that catapulted him into the lead after a Francesco Molinari double bogey on the 15th. After nearly acing the 16th hole, Woods held a three-stroke lead going into the 17th. It was his to lose. It was a long walk to the 17th, where he parred, and it felt like an eternity on the way to the 18th, where bogeyed and sealed victory. It broke the internet. Tiger had returned.

 

The grim reality is that even the Masters Tournament, which never makes exceptions for its competition, is making one now for the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a statement golf fanatics take seriously. 

After all, it’s the Masters.

Lucas Perkins-Brown covers lacrosse. Contact him at [email protected].