Over the past 30 years, The Masters has provided us with some of the most incredible golfing moments in the history of the game.
In this article, I look at my personal top ten Masters Moments of the last 30 years, starting with merely the miraculous before finishing with a stroke of genius.
10. Fred Couples gravity-defying ball at the 12th in 1992
The Par 3 12th hole is a famous part of Amen Corner with a very narrow green protected by water, a bunker and then flower beds behind.
In 1992, Fred Couples was embroiled in a battle with Ray Floyd and Corey Pavin for the Masters title as he teed up at this notoriously windswept hole.
Couples shot landed on the green but spun back and with the cut of grass in the rough severe, it seemed inevitable that the ball would roll into the water. Indeed, the ball started rolling down the bank but incredibly, came to rest just six inches above the waterline, seemingly defying the laws of physics.
The video below shows Couple’s second shot and he eventually saved par and went on to claim the green jacket.
9. Louis Oosthuizen’s Double Eagle at the 2nd Hole in the final round of the 2012 Masters
The 2012 Masters was dramatic for many reasons, perhaps none more spectacular or unexepected as what happened when Louis Oosthuizen addressed the ball for his second shot at the Par 5 2nd hole.
Until this point, there had only been three double-eagle, or albatrosses, in Masters history, none televised. Amazingly, after this incredible shot, the South African threw his ball into the crowd to a lucky spectator.
The ball was then retrieved by members of the club, who have since placed it in the Masters museum for posterity.
8. Phil Mickelson wins his first Major at the Masters
By 2004, Phil Mickelson’s genius with a golf club was already confirmed. What wasn’t was a major titile and fans of ‘Lefty’ were getting twitchy.
After an unremarkable even par 72 on the first day, Mickelson shot a much improved 69 on the second, to move into tied fourth.
He would match that score on the Saturday to move into the lead with Chris Di Marco and earn himself a place in the final pairing for Sunday.
The final day was one of the most exciting in history as Ernie Els shot a superb 67 to finish at eight under, but behind him, Mickelson came up the last on eight under, before earning a 72nd hole birdie to win his first Major title.
7. Norman’s Folly: Nick Faldo wins in 1996 from seven shots behind.
In 1996, after a superb 63 in the first round and subsequent rounds of 69 and 71, Aussie Greg Norman held a six shot lead over second place Nick Faldo.
The final pairing on Sunday would see the Aussie and Englishman go head to head, but it seemed an almost impossible task to think that Norman would not end his Masters drought.
Yet in an incredible day of Golf, Norman floundered, shooting a 78, while the steady Faldo shot a fabulous 67 to win by five shots, the largest turnaround on the final day in Masters history.
6. Larry Mize’s 1987 Play off win: The Impossible Chip
Facing a play off against two of the legends of the game, Greg Norman and Severiano Ballesteros, American Larry Mize may well have felt a little daunted.
When the Spaniard was eliminated after the first play off hole, Mize and Norman teed off at the par 4 11th, both hitting the fairway.
Mize’s approach however was wide right and a good 140 feet from the hole with a horrendous chip awaiting him. Realising the chances of Mize getting down in two from there were slim, Norman opted for a safer approach, hitting the ball to within 50 foot of the flag but on the putting green.
Mize stepped up for the crucial third shot and the miracle that followed is shown below:
5. Jack Nicklaus wins the Masters in 1986
After eight holes of par golf during his final round at the 1986 Masters, Jack Nicklaus name was not on the lips of possible winners for the event. Tom Kite, Severiano Ballesteros, Bernhard Langer and Greg Norman most certainly were, but they’d reckoned without the sheer tenacity and brilliance of the Golden Bear.
Nicklaus birdied the 9th, 10th and 11th to move up the leaderboard, but that was countenanced by a bogey at 12. Then he went eagle-birdie-birdie from the 15th to 17th, before finishing with a par to post a 9-under par total.
His challengers faded over the final few holes to earn the Golden Bear an incredible win.
4. Bubba Watson’s recovery shot in the 2012 Masters play off
Last year’s Masters produced another golden moment in the play off. On the second play off hole, the 10th, Watson smashed his drive into the trees down the right of the fairway. His ball was deep in the rough, but Watson had a chance to swing a club fully at the ball.
Watson explained later that when his caddy started to work with him, he told him that “if I have a swing, I have a shot”. Refusing to countenance a safety-first policy, Watson attempted a very difficult hook shot under the most intense pressure, with incredible results.
3. Tiger Wins his first Masters in 1997 and smashes the record books
Tiger’s performance at the 1997 Masters re-wrote the record books. Not only did Woods achieve the lowest ever scoring finishing total in the competition (18-under), he achieved this despite shooting a four OVER par on the first nine on the first day of the tournament.
The 63 holes that followed that opening half-round are arguably the finest sustained display of golf the Masters tournament has ever witnessed. Woods won by an incredible 12 strokes from second place Tom Kite and became the youngest ever player to win the tournament.
2. Phil Mickelson’s shot at the 13th from the Pine Straw in 2010.
Mickelson’s battle with Lee Westwood during the final round of the 2010 Masters was as enthralling as it was titanic. The Englishman pushed Lefty all the way and after Mickelson had driven his tee shot into the trees at the Par 5 13th, Westwood sensed an opportunity.
With a tiny route to the green between two tree trunks and playing from the pine straw Mickelson produced a shot of undeniable genius to not just find the green, but land the ball six feet short of the hole with the chance of an eagle.
1. Tiger’s Miracle Chip at the 16th at the 2005 Masters
He may be favourite to win in 2013, but Tiger’s last success at Augusta came in 2005 and during the final round at the 16th hole, with the tournament on the line, he produced what could possibly be the greatest golf shot not just in the history of the Masters, but perhaps the sport itself.
A pulled tee-shot at the Par-3 16th left him in all kinds of trouble to the right of the green, facing a chip that most players would have been delighted to have got to within six to ten feet of the hole.
What followed next was simply breathtaking and ensured Woods would shortly be winning his fourth green jacket.
(All videos sourced from Youtube)