Tiger roars for the first time
A 21-year-old Tiger Woods had already made a name for himself in golfing circles before he arrived at Augusta in 1997 for his first major as a pro.
A success-laden amateur career, big commercial endorsements and three tournament victories in a few short months since joining the paid ranks had provided plenty of evidence that he was a special talent – but by the time he exited down Magnolia Lane, his fame had transcended the sport.
Initially, it didn’t look like he was about to rewrite the history books as he carded a 4-over 40 for his opening nine holes but he bounced back with a six-under 30 on the back nine to sit just three off the lead.
Woods took control of the tournament with a second-round 66 followed by a 65 on the Saturday that propelled him into a nine-shot lead. He added a final round 69 for what was then a record-low total of 270 (18-under) and a 12-shot victory, which remains the largest margin of victory at the Masters.
Perhaps more significantly, with the victory, he also became the first African-American player to win a major and he did so at a club that only admitted its first black member in 1990.
That fact was probably not lost on Woods’ father Earl, who had been a pivotal figure in his development and had long been convinced his son was destined for greatness. As they embraced by the 18th green, it was clear that Woods had taken a big step on that journey.
One last hurrah for Jack Nicklaus
When Jack Nicklaus teed it up at the 1986 Masters he was 46 years old, he hadn’t tasted PGA Tour success for two years and it had been six since his last major triumph – but the Golden Bear wasn’t done yet.
He wasn’t expected to challenge for the title and add to his five Masters victories, and so it seemed as he posted a 74 and a 71 to trail halfway leader Seve Ballesteros by six shots. He closed the gap on the Saturday but was T9 and still four shots adrift of pacesetter Greg Norman at the end of the third round.
Nicklaus offered little hope of an immediate Sunday surge but hit his stride at the turn and three successive birdies at the 9th, 10th and 11th had the patrons flocking in the hope of witnessing something very special.
Hopes faded with a bogey on the 12th that left him three shots off the lead but then came a famous Nicklaus charge with a birdie on the 13th, an eagle on the 15th and another birdie at the 16th. There was even more to come with a birdie on the 17th and the famous ‘putter raise’ as he claimed the outright lead.
He set the seal on a sensational back nine score of 30 and then watched on as Ballesteros, Norman and Tom Kite all failed to usurp him and deny Nicklaus a sixth and final green jacket.
The most magical shot of Tiger’s career?
Gene Sarazen’s albatross at the Masters in 1935 may have been the ‘shot heard around the world’ but Tiger Woods’ chip-in during the 2005 tournament is almost certainly the most watched shot ever produced at Augusta.
Woods was locked in a final-round battle with compatriot Chris DiMarco and held a one-shot lead as the duo reached the par-three 16th hole. His tee shot would fly long and left and come to rest against the collar of the rough to leave an incredibly difficult up-and-down to maintain his narrow advantage.
Woods aimed his chip shot 20 ft above the hole and the world then watched on as the ball trickled slowly down the slope and towards the hole.
Incredibly, the ball was in motion for over 16 seconds and in a money-can’t-buy moment that advertisers can only dream of, the ball paused dramatically on the lip displaying the Nike logo before dropping into the cup.
‘Oh wow!’ exclaimed commentator Verne Lundquist, before adding his legendary line, ‘In your life have you seen anything like that?’.
Woods would actually bogey his final two holes to squander his lead and would require a birdie on the first extra hole to ultimately edge out DiMarco, but for many, that year’s Masters was won in this magical moment.
Maybe the ‘greatest ever hole-in-one’?
Perhaps the greatest shot witnessed at Augusta National, and maybe anywhere at any time, was that conjured by Spain’s Jon Rahm during a practice round ahead of the 2020 tournament.
Skipping the ball across the pond leading to the par-three 16th green has long been a Masters tradition, reportedly started by former PGA Tour pro Ken Green back in the 1980s, and on this occasion, Rahm certainly rose to the challenge.
After sending his regular tee shot to within two feet, Rahm took another ball and placed it on the downslope by the water’s edge before pulling his 5-iron.
He then proceeded to skim the ball over the water before it popped up onto the green where it followed the contours of the putting surface all the way to the hole for a jaw-dropping hole-in-one. Thankfully his effort, conjured on his 26th birthday, was caught on camera and immediately went viral.
He may not have been the first to have achieved the mind-blowing feat, with Vijay Singh (2009) and Martin Kaymer (2012) among those to have worked some similar magic, but arguably it is the greatest example of how insanely talented these players are.
A return to glory
Tiger Woods completed golf’s greatest-ever comeback with victory at the Masters 2019.
A two-under-par final round of 70 on an enthralling Sunday carried him to 13-under and a narrow victory over Dustin Johnson, Xander Schauffele and Brooks Koepka but those details were soon lost in a wave of emotion.
It was the then 43-year-old’s 15th major win and it came 11 years after his last at the 2008 US Open with the years in between plagued by both physical and personal trauma.
Success did not allude him completely during that time, but he made just as many headlines off the course. A car crash, reports of infidelity and the breakdown of his marriage, countless injuries, spinal fusion surgery and an arrest for reckless driving are just a few of the reasons that made his fifth Augusta triumph so unlikely and his celebration so compelling.
Among those witnessing the ‘return to glory’ were his mother Kutilda and children Charlie and Sam who he embraced in an echo of a similarly moving moment with his late father Earl following his 1997 Masters victory.
The Augusta patrons hailed their hero as he then made his way to the clubhouse where a selection of his peers were also waiting to congratulate him on his awe-inspiring triumph.
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