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My Favourite Magical Moments at The Masters

By: | Mon 08 Apr 2024

There is no other major quite like The Masters. It is the only one that is always played at the same course, the magnificent Augusta National, and that means we are all familiar with the 18 stunning holes that comprise one of the most iconic golf courses on the planet.

It is a tournament that always seems to create magical moments and ahead of this year’s tournament I have delved into my memory banks for some of my favourites.

Bubba Watson, 2012

Watson built a career based on the huge distance he hits the golf ball. But he also has a wonderful imagination. And never was this better illustrated than in 2012 when he found himself in a playoff with Louis Oosthuizen. A wild tee shot saw him dead and buried behind the trees. It seemed that he had no shot other to play out sideways. Instead he pulled out a gap wedge and hit a towering high hook that curled over and around the branches to land on the green 10 feet from the hole.

Tiger Woods, 2005

There have been many wondrous moments and incredible shots played by Woods at Augusta but the pick of the lot came at the par-three 16th hole in 2005. Going head to head with Chris DiMarco, Woods cleared the green at the par three. He was left with an impossible shot. The flag was located at the bottom of the lower level and Woods had no direct route. He spent some time weighing up his options and then opted to chip to the brow of the hill. His ball almost stopped but then wandered down the slope. On and on. It looked like it was going to stop on the edge of the hole. But then it dropped and the crowd - and TV commentators - went crazy.

Louis Oosthuizen, 2016

Oosthuizen has enjoyed serious mixed fortunes at Augusta but this was certainly one of the strangest. Playing into the sun at the 16th, the South African’s ball landed on the green to the right of the hole. His playing partner, JB Holmes, had already played and finished close to the hole. Oosthuizen’s ball slowly ran down the slope, collided with Holmes’ ball and finished up in the hole. 

Phil Mickelson, 2010

Lefty had won in 2004 and 2006 and trailed Lee Westwood going into the final round in 2010. At the par-five 13th he hit a wayward drive into the trees. It was sitting on pine straw and his caddie, Jim "Bones" Mackay implored Mickelson to lay up. But he had other ideas. He was still nearly 200 yards away from the putting surface and only had a narrow target between the trees to aim at.

Mickelson made perfect contact with a six-iron and saw his approach clear Rae's Creek. There was a huge roar as it landed on the green, 10 feet from the hole. He didn’t make the eagle putt but a birdie set him on his way to victory.

Tiger Woods, 1997

This wasn’t about a single shot. It was about 270 strokes. Playing with defending champion Nick Faldo, Woods required 40 shots for his opening nine holes. And then he played the following 63 holes in a manner nobody could have dreamed of doing. At the age of 21 years, three months and 14 days he became the youngest champion. And his 18-under par total of 270 broke every record in the book. He was almost two years younger than Seve Ballesteros, who triumphed four days after his 23rd birthday in 1980, while his score also broke Jack Nicklaus' 32-year record for the lowest in Masters history by one shot. It lasted until Jordan Spieth matched it in 2015 and Dustin Johnson eclipsed it in 2020. By finishing 12 shots clear of Tom Kite, his victory margin was the second widest in major history behind Old Tom Morris' 13-shot victory at the 1862 Open Championship - but just three years later he broke it at the 2000 US Open, when triumphing by 15 strokes at Pebble Beach.

Tiger Woods, 2001

Nobody in the modern era had come close to holding all four majors at the same time. In 2000, Woods won the US Open, The Open and the US PGA. So he arrived at Augusta National in 2001 needing to win to complete the unprecedented feat. Five shots behind after an opening 70 and two behind following a second round of 66, Woods added a 68 on Saturday for a one-shot lead over Phil Mickelson. A closing 68 saw Woods hold off the challenges of Mickelson and runner-up David Duval to win his second Masters title and complete the "Tiger Slam". It was also the second of five occasions when he'd compiled four under-par rounds, which is more than anyone else in history.

Tiger Woods, 2019

Tiger Woods Masters

Woods had been stuck on 14 majors since 2008, when he won the US Open, beating Rocco Mediate on a broken leg after a gruelling 91 holes at Torrey Pines. Then came years of personal turmoil and a seemingly never-ending list of injuries. In a last-ditch bid to save his career he underwent back fusion surgery. And, lo and behold, it worked. He won the Tour Championship in 2018. But he surely couldn’t land a 15th major? Wrong! As all those around him wilted, Woods came through for the most emotional victory of a storied career.

Jack Nicklaus, 1986

The Golden Bear was 46. His best days were long behind him. He came to The Masters in 1986 with his son on his bag - and no expectations. Going into the final round he trailed Greg Norman by four shots, and was three behind Seve Ballesteros and Bernhard Langer. Nicklaus played the first eight holes in par. But he then birdied the ninth, 10th and 11th. He then dropped a shot at the par-three 12th. After a par at 14, Nicklaus hit his 204-yard approach to 12 feet at the 15th and holed the putt for eagle to pull within two shots of Ballesteros. Nicklaus then hit his tee shot on 16 to within three feet and after holing his birdie putt he was within one shot of Ballesteros who was playing the 15th hole. Ballesteros hooked his approach into the water. After failing to get up and down, he bogeyed the hole, giving Nicklaus a share of the lead. Tom Kite made birdie at 15 to enter into a three-way tie with Ballesteros and Nicklaus. After a wayward drive, Nicklaus hit his approach on 17 to 18 feet and memorably holed the putt to lead for the first time. He two-putted the 18th for a 65, a nine-under-par total - and his 18th major victory.

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