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10 Top Masters Moments this Millennium

By: Golf Shake | Mon 07 Apr 2014

Post by golf journaist Nick Bonfield 

The Masters have created some unbelieveable sporting drama and recent years have been packed with amazing moments. Nick Bonfield shares his 10 greatest Masters moments from recent years

Weir/Mattiace duel - 2003

In 2003, I was a fresh-faced 14-year-old who was making his first tentative forays into the world of golf. The 2003 Masters turned my mild, nascent interest into a full-blown love for the sport. On Sunday, Len Mattiace charged through the field on the back nine, making eagle at 13 and a host of other birdies to card a closing 65 and set the clubhouse target. Augusta's back nine really captured my imagination in a way no other golf course had - a product of its sheer beauty, expert design and the scoring possibilities it affords those who are on top of their games. Meanwhile, in the final group, Mike Weir was producing a putting display that, to this day, has never been superseded (in my view, anyway). He holed absolutely everything from 10 feet and in, including a gutsy 8-footer on the  last to force extra holes. Whilst I wasn't allowed to watch the ensuing play-off (it was late and I had school the next day) but my love affair with golf had already started.

Mickelson's first major - 2004

I'm not sure it's possible to put into words how much pressure Phil Mickelson was feeling while presiding over a 12-foot birdie putt on Augusta's 72nd hole in 2004. He was, after all, a player who had - despite his considerable ability and standing in the game - failed to deliver a major championship. At 33, you sensed his future prospects hinged on that putt. But all great champions step up to the plate at career-defining moments, and Mickelson saw his ball disappear below ground and leaped into the air with unadulterated joy. It was a truly great scene, especially given the popularity of a man who acts as a great ambassador for golf and embodies everything that's so great about the sport.

Woods' chip - 2005

Golf Monthly magazine ranked Tiger Woods' chip shot on the 16th hole in round four of the 2005 Masters as the best golf shot of all time, and it's hard to argue with such an assertion. He was embroiled in a tense scrap with Chris DiMarco, a player who was at the peak of his game at the time, and his one-shot lead looked set to be abolished after he pulled his tee shot on the par-3 16th long and left of the green. An up and down looked so unlikely - especially given the precision required amid stringent pressure and DiMarco's position some 15 feet from the hole - but he used the slope brilliantly, and watched with utter jubilation as his ball tumbled down the slope, paused on the lip of the hole and dropped into the cup. The raw emotion he displayed subsequently while celebrating with Steve Williams was fantastic to watch, and - despite bogeying the final two holes - he went on the claim his fourth Masters title in a play-off.



Johnson's course management - 2007

Whilst the 2007 Masters certainly wasn't the most exciting instalment in the event's drama-fuelled history, there was much to be admired about Zach Johnson's performance. With Augusta National frequently being touted as a 'bomber's' golf course, the American proved there is, and always will be, more than one way to skin a cat. His pragmatic approach, shrewd course management and recognition of his own limitations ultimately paid dividends. He laid up on every par 5 and used his exemplary wedge game and immense putting prowess to lead him to victory. It wasn't a vintage Masters, but Johnson's performance was impressive.

Cabrera/Campbell/Perry - 2009

Even though he's quite aloof and not generally recognised as one of the nicest players on tour, there's something extremely compelling about Angel Cabrera - a man from the Argentinean lower classes who picked up the game while working at his local club. Cabrera has a special affinity for Augusta, but only a bogey-bogey finish from 48-year-old Kenny Perry let him into a play-off. On the first play-off hole he hit a wild drive right and saw his second shot ricochet off a tree into the fairway. Remarkably unfazed and displaying his characteristic stoicism, he hit an approach to 6 feet and holed the putt after Chad Campbell was eliminated. Perry struggled on the par-4 10th and Cabrera made a casual par to secure his second major championship.

Mickelson from the pine straw - 2010

When cameras zoomed in to Phil Mickelson's ball  nestled in the pine straw to the right of the par-5 13th during the final round in 2010, the prospect of him taking on the shot he would eventually pull off seemed almost non-existent. He was, after all, in a battle for the green jacket with Lee Westwood on the Sunday of a major championship. But Mickelson is made to defy convention - a key factor in his ever-increasing allure and popularity - and he clearly had nothing else in his mind once he'd identified a gap. He pulled out a six iron and hit a glorious second over Rae's Creek to within six feet of the pin, and although he didn't hole the subsequent putt, he wet on to claim a third Masters title.



Back nine on Sunday - 2011

Sunday afternoon at the 2011 Masters was - the final day of the 2012 Ryder Cup aside - the most enthralling spell of golf I've ever seen. Tiger Woods was making a surge despite being woefully out of form, Charl Schwartzel eagled the 3rd and continued to make birdies on the back nine, Cabrera picked up shots round Amen corner, Bo Van Pelt eagled both 13 and 15 to get into the mix, Jason Day was demonstrating immense ability and characteristic tenacity and others were making birdies with unparalleled regularity. It was truly awesome to watch and as good an advert for golf as you could possibly imagine.

Bubba's shot from the trees - 2012

Bubba Watson hit one of the best shots of all time in a play-off at the 2012 Masters. He looked dead and buried when he found the trees right of the 10th fairway, but managed to impart a frankly ridiculous amount of draw spin on the ball. His stunning approach settled some 15 feet from the pin, and with Louis Oosthuizen failing to get up and down for par, he two-putted for an emotional victory.

Louis Oosthuizen's albatross - 2012

Albatrosses are extremely rare in golf, and especially in major championships. In 2012, Louis Oosthuizen hit a big drive off the 2nd tee during the final round and pulled out a four iron for his second shot. He made a perfect contact, skirted the huge bunker at the front of the green and waited for what seemed like an eternity before the a roar from the crowd revealed his ball had found its way into the bottom of the cup. I'd love to know how much time elapsed between him hitting the shot and his ball working into the hole.

Adam Scott's celebration - 2013

Adam Scott is renowned as one of the most reserved player on tour, but his celebration at the 2013 Masters was very much incongruous with that reputation. He made birdie on the 72nd hole and produced a raw, unprecedented display of emotion, clearly thinking he'd done enough to win the title. He hadn't, though, but he held his nerve and knocked in a 10-footer for birdie at the second play-off hole, providing picture editors all over the world a brilliant selection of images in the aftermath. It was great to watch and a telling reminder of just how much it means to fulfill a life objective.

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Tags: Zach Johnson tiger woods phil mickelson PGA Tour european tour Bubba Watson adam scott

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