Friday, April 07, 2006

The Masters: Best Golf Tournament Ever

How great is the Masters? You have some of the greatest (and not so great) moments in the sport of golf's history at this tournament. Here are a few I came up with as I've religiously followed this tournament every year. My goal is to one day attend The Masters.

1997 Greatest Pro Debut In Major History:
A 21 year old Tiger Woods hammers the field in his first major as a professional. "A win for the ages" said CBS announcer Jim Nantz. Woods won by 12 shots over Tom Kite and had the big shots at Augusta trying to "Tiger proof" their course the next year by re-designing some holes to make them longer and more difficult.

1986 Jack Nicklaus: An Old Master Comes Back.
Twenty years ago this weekend. In one of the most memorable Masters ever, Jack Nicklaus scored a final round 65 to win his sixth Masters. It came 23 years after Nicklaus won his first. Nicklaus's final round was highlighted by an eagle-birdie-birdie streak at Numbers 15, 16 and 17 for a back nine 30. I sat there in amazement watching this unfold.

Emotion: 1995 Ben Crenshaw. In an emotional tournament, the 1984 Champion Ben Crenshaw paid tribute to his late teacher Harvey Penick, who had died just the week before, by winning his second Masters title. Crenshaw birdied holes 16 and 17 Sunday to win by a stroke over Davis Love III. You could see how bad Crenshaw wanted it for his late friend and mentor and I was glad he got it. One of the greatest displays of emotion after a sporting event I've seen.

Collapse: 1996 Greg Norman. Norman had a six shot lead headed into the final round. It was the most horrific collapse in a sporting event I ever saw. Nick Faldo collected his third Masters title winning by five strokes over Greg Norman. Faldo shot 67, Norman shot 78. History will show Norman won two British Open titles, but in his career, he lost a lot of major titles due to a combination of poor course management and unbelievable luck (Bob Tway at the 1986 PGA, Larry Mize 1987 Masters are two examples).

Drama: Tiger 2005. On the 16th hole, a 180 degree slow roller, lay on the lip for what seemed to be an eternity and fall in for a huge birdie chip shot on the course’s loudest hole. It doesn't get more dramatic than that. Simply incredible. You had all the emotions of Tiger there. He crouches, he agonizes, he's amazed. Tiger does a double fist pump! A nice commercial for Nike too.

Slam Dunk: 1987 Larry Mize. Augusta native Larry Mize chipped in for birdie from 140 feet on the second playoff hole at Number 11 to defeat Greg Norman and Seve Ballesteros for the title. Ballesteros was eliminated on the first playoff hole when he missed his par putt. Norman still had a 30 footer to tie, but everyone knew he was finished and of course he missed.

Worst Putt: Scott Hoch 1989. The first playoff hole of the 1989 Masters and Scott Hoch has an easy two-foot putt to become champion. Nick Faldo, his rival for the title, and millions around the world, look on, amazed, as he misses the putt. Faldo wins the first of his three Masters titles on the next hole. Not many of his peers had much sympathy for Hoch. The previous year, in a player poll by the Dallas Times Herald to find the least liked golfer on the PGA Tour, Hoch was the runaway winner. Faldo likes him a lot I'm sure.

The King: Arnold Palmer. Four time Masters Champion. Enough said. I loved watching Nicklaus but Arnie is my Dad's favorite and over the years, I've appreciated what he has meant for the game of golf.


Mom said...

Good piece. Mom

Bill-DC said...

Sunday 4/9/06

Phil Mickelson played great today. I wad rooting for Fred Couples. Two Masters titles for Lefty now and he's now won back to back majors.