The Masters always seems to produce a moment of magic. And we’re sure th 2016 wil follow suit. So as the excitement builds for this year’s tournament, it is worth reflecting on why the Masters is loved so much.
Will 2016 see another repeat of Sandy Lyle’s 1988 bunker shot? After his amazing shot through the trees in 2010, can lightning strike twice for Phil Mickelson?
The Golf Care team can’t wait for the 2016 Masters to begin. To whet our appetite, we have flicked through the history books to remind ourselves why we love the Masters.
Turning back the clock – Doug Ford’s 1957 triumph
Just shy of 60 years ago, Doug Ford shocked the golfing world by winning the 1957 Masters. A massive underdog heading into the tournament, Ford trailed favourite Sam Snead by three shots entering the final round.
Ford’s final-round charge put him into contention, but he had to make a crucial decision on the par-5 15th: go for the green from well over 200 yards out, or lay up. Ford disregarded his caddie’s advice, hit the green and two-putted for a birdie.
Ford holed out from the bunker on 18 for another birdie that proved a perfect finish to a final round 66 and a three-shot victory to win his first ever Masters tournament.
There is only one Jack Nicklaus
When you think Masters, you automatically think of Jack Nicklaus. The American golfer, nicknamed The Golden Bear, won the Masters a record six times from 1963-1986.
But two of those six victories stand out in particular for very different reasons.
We will start with Jack’s Masters victory in 1975, which has been described as the most dramatic in history, and it is easy to see why.
It quickly turned out to be a three horse race between the heavyweights Nicklaus, Johnny Miller and Tom Weiskopf.
Never before had the top three players in the world all summoned the best golf of their lives in the same major championship. After a thrilling four days of golf, Nicklaus came away with the crown and justified his spot as the number one golfer. Above is a clip of Jack slotting the ball home on the 16th: a memorable shot from the tournament.
Eleven years later, Nicklaus, at the age of 46, was preparing to win a record sixth Masters title, despite many having the opinion his better days were behind him.
Nothing he did in the first two rounds suggested otherwise but Jack soon found his groove and rolled back the years and collected his sixth and final green jacket.
Don’t deny it: one of the best sporting wonders is when an underdog defies all the odds to win.
In 1987, Augusta native Larry Mize shocked the golfing world by winning the Masters in his home state. He did so by chipping the ball from 140 feet on the 11th to beat George Norman in a play-off, as shown above. What made Mize’s story even more special was that he used to work the scoreboard at the third during Masters week when he was a teenager.
Now onto another golfing hero. Britain’s long wait for a Masters champion came to an end in 1988 thanks to Shrewsbury-born Sandy Lyle. He faced the likes of Ben Crenshaw, Tom Watson and Bernhard Langer as he attempted to bring the green jacket to the UK.
Lyle shot a final round score of 71 and his seven under par 281 gave him a one-shot victory over American Ryder Cup player Mark Calcavecchia. He was a front-runner throughout the tournament and Lyle’s victory will be remembered for an unforgettable shot from the bunker on the final hole to seal a famous win.
In 1996, the 20-year-old Tiger Woods burst onto the scene. One year after his professional bow, Woods did the unthinkable by winning the 61st Masters tournament by 12 shots. This was just the beginning for the golfer from a middle-class background in LA, and he quickly became the poster boy for the sport and one of the highest-paid athletes in the world.
In 2001, Woods completed golf’s version of the Grand Slam. His second Masters win saw him become the first golfer in history to hold all four major championships, after his US Open, PGA Championship and Open Championship victories in 2000.
However, what Tiger did four years later at the Masters is considered by many to be the best shot in the tournament’s history. Without a major championship crown for three years, Tiger performed the near impossible with a defying chip on the 16th, as the ball somehow made its way into the hole which sent the Augusta crowd into raptures. Woods went on to win the 2005 Masters, thanks to this shot which is still talked about today.
Phil finally does it
Until a few years ago, Phil Mickelson was everybody’s favourite runner-up. The American golfer came within a whisker of winning a major championship title on numerous occasions, but always tripped up at the final hurdle. That all changed for Phil in 2004. Competing in his 47th major championship tournament, Mickelson overcame the pressure to hole an 18-foot birdie to win the 68th Masters by a single shot, pictured above.
Six years later Mickelson produced the best shot of the 2010 tournament as he went on to win his third Masters. Phil faced a daunting task, a 207 yard shot through pine trees with the ball nestled on pine straw. Using his six iron, he hit the ball sweetly as it flew between the trees and landed just four feet away from the pin. Mickelson missed the eagle putt, but still went on to win the competition.
Last year, the new kid on the block Jordan Spieth equalled the lowest winning score in Masters history to win his first major championship.
The 21-year-old American shot a two-under 70 to triumph on 18 under, equalling Tiger Woods’ score in 1997.
Spieth also became the second youngest Masters champion, winning the tournament at the age of 21 years and 259 days, 155 days older than Woods when he claimed the ’97 championship.
For the 2016 Masters, Spieth is unsurprisingly one of the favourites to retain his title, with Jason Day, Rory McIlroy and Bubba Watson also expected to provide stiff competition.
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