For the first time since 1945, the Masters has been cancelled. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some of the iconic moments the tournament has served up in recent times. Here, in no particular order, are our 20 most memorable Masters moments of the last 20 years.
Louis Oosthuizen’s albatross (2012)
This incredible shot might not have been enough to secure Oosthuizen the green jacket, but it was one of only four albatrosses in Masters history. It is undoubtedly one of the greatest shots ever witnessed at Augusta National – the only problem for Oosthuizen was, another was about to follow…
Bubba Watson’s miraculous hook shot (2012)
Having taken an outright lead, Oosthuizen must have thought he’d done enough to win the Masters, but Bubba Watson had other ideas. He was in golf jail – deep in the trees to the right of the 10th fairway, with a cherry tree, a magnolia tree and TV tower in his way. Bubba Watson then got himself out of the woods. This miraculous hook shot will forever go down in Masters folklore.
Charl Schwartzel’s birdie run (2011)
The 2011 Masters is mainly remembered for Rory McIlroy’s collapse, but let’s not forget Charl Schwartzel’s epic birdie run. Exactly half a century after Gary Player became the first non-American to win at Augusta, Schwartzel did his South African compatriot proud by winning his first Major in sensational style. Trailing leader Rory McIlroy by four strokes going into the final day, Schwartzel hit four straight birdies on the last four holes to pinch the title by two shots. (Skip to 3:42:12 in the video above).
Mickelson finally does it (2004)
Phil Mickelson was often described as “the best player never to win a major”. Always the bridesmaid. However, 2004 was to be his time. In one of the most exciting back nines in Masters history, Mickelson got over the line despite his nearest challenger Ernie Els hitting two final-round eagles to set the clubhouse target. With a playoff looming, Mickelson sunk a birdie putt on the 18th for his first major. That’s how to break your duck. (Skip to 4:30:25 in the video above).
Billy Casper shoots 106 (2005)
The great Billy Casper won three major championships including the 1970 Masters. However, his last ever Masters appearance wasn’t one of his finest hours. The then 73-year-old, who had undergone a hip operation two weeks prior, hit five tee shots into the water en route to a 14 at the 16th and dropped 34 strokes during a round of 106 – the highest score ever in the Masters. However, in his day Casper was one of the true golfing greats – as the above video reminds us.
Tiger Woods completes the set (2001)
After finishing fifth at the 2000 Masters, Tiger Woods took his game to another level over the next 365 days. Having won the British and US Open and PGA Championship in 2000, Woods became the first golfer to win four consecutive professional major championships in a row at Augusta in 2001. Traditionalists will tell you the ‘Tiger Slam’ wasn’t a real Grand Slam because it stretched over two years. Whatever your stance, you can’t deny this was a truly special achievement, one which will take some replicating. (Skip to 2:27:02 in the video above).
Mike Weir sets two Masters records (2003)
In 2003, Mike Weir became not only the first Canadian but also the first left-handed golfer to win the Masters. To this day, he’s the only Canadian male golfer to win a professional major championship. The above video doesn’t do justice to some of the treacherous weather conditions he faced, particularly on the first day. But in the end, it was all smiles and sunshine for Weir as the 20/1 outsider took the green jacket to make history. (Skip to 4:31:20 above).
Adam Scott puts things right (2013)
We all saw what happened to Scott at the 2012 Open at Royal Lytham & St. Annes – and it wasn’t pretty. Just nine months after letting the claret jug slip through his fingers with four closing bogeys, Scott put things right at Augusta, hitting a winning putt on the second hole of a sudden death playoff with 2009 champion Angel Cabrera. In the process, Scott became the first Australian golfer to win the Masters – achieving a feat that eluded the likes of Peter Thomson and, of course, Greg Norman.
Tiger keeps the green jacket (2002)
Winning the Masters is hard enough, but to win it back-to-back you’ve got to be a once in a generation golfer – as the statistics prove. Tiger Woods firmly belongs in this category, and he became only the third golfer – along with Jack Nicklaus and Nick Faldo – to win consecutive Masters titles when he rolled to a three-stroke win in 2002. Not a bad way to follow up on the Tiger Slam!
Jordan Spieth matches Tiger’s Masters record (2015)
Speaking of Woods, back in 1997 he probably didn’t think his 72-hole record would be matched any time soon. Turns out, it would be matched by Jordan Spieth just 18 years later. At the age of just 21, Spieth not only equalled Woods’ 18-under 270, he became the first wire-to-wire Masters winner since Raymond Floyd in 1976. He also made a record-breaking 28 birdies in the same championship. If you’re going to win your first ever major, you may as well do it in style, right?
Angel flies the flag for South America (2009)
Talk about drama. Talk about an upset. The 2009 Masters had all the ingredients of a classic sporting spectacle. Argentine Angel Carbera, ranked 69th before the tournament, held his nerve in the second hole of a sudden death playoff with Kenny Perry to win the Masters. In doing so, he became the first ever Masters winner from South America. El Pato, or ‘The Duck’ as he was affectionately known in his homeland, nearly repeated his heroics four years later, narrowly losing to Adam Scott in 2013. (Skip to 4:57:18 in the video above).
Rory McIlroy’s meltdown (2011)
One of the defining moments of McIlroy’s career. Going into Sunday with a four-shot lead, the Northern Irishman shot the worst round in history by any professional golfer leading after the third round at Augusta, finishing ten adrift of Charl Schwartzel. To make matters worse, McIlroy and Schwartzel were booked onto the same 20-hour flight from Georgia to Kuala Lumpur for the Malaysian Open. Having been the bookies favourite to win at Augusta this year, McIlroy must feel like he’s cursed when it comes to the Masters. Surely, though, it’s only a matter of time before he completes his Grand Slam?
Sheffield’s Danny Willett capitalises on Spieth’s collapse (2016)
The fact that McIlroy and Spieth boast 7 majors between them shows that even the best golfers choke. That’s exactly what Spieth did in 2016, twice hitting the ball into Rae’s Creek and carding a quadruple-bogey. Sheffield’s Danny Willett subsequently made three birdies in his final six holes to win his first major and become the first Englishman since Nick Faldo to take the green jacket. Considering this was only his second appearance at Augusta and his wife had given birth the week before, Willett’s Masters win is arguably one of the most impressive of the last 20 years.
Vijay Singh’s water hole-in-one (2009)
We know what you’re thinking. This hole-in-one from Vijay Singh was technically during a practice round. But we just had to find a way to include it on the list. The way the ball skips off the water three times and trickles up the green is quite poetic. It’s one of those classic ‘couldn’t do it again if he tried’ shots, which is why clips of it resurface whenever the Masters rolls around. It’s one of the greatest – and most unlikely – shots ever seen at Augusta.
Tiger Woods breaks his club (2007)
This might not immediately spring to mind when you think of memorable Masters moments, but Tiger Woods breaking his club isn’t something you see every day. That’s what happened in 2007, when Woods snapped his 4-iron while punching out from behind a tree on the 11th hole. As he said of this moment: “’If I hit it the way I wanted, I knew the club would shatter. And I hit the shot the way I wanted.” It’s a wonder one of his body parts didn’t shatter in the process but then, this is Tiger Woods we’re talking about.
Phil Mickelson’s shot from the pine straw (2010)
There’s something satisfying about a well-executed shot from behind a tree, isn’t there? They don’t come much better than this one from Phil Mickelson, who found himself at the notorious par-5 13th with the pine straw, trees and Rae’s Creek to contend with. As his former caddy Jim “Bones” Mackay described it: “The gap between the trees, TV didn’t do it justice. It was about the width of a box of a dozen balls I would say.” Mickelson’s response was to thread a 6-iron over Rae’s Creek and win the Masters with an easy two-putt birdie. Easy as that.
74th time lucky for Sergio (2017)
Never mind the last 20 years, this Masters moment is one of the best of all time. It might have taken Sergio Garcia 74 attempts to finally land his maiden major, but this one was well worth the wait. When he entered the sudden death playoff with Justin Rose, many golf fans thought that he’d lost it because that’s what he’d done time and again – promised greatness and failed to deliver. This time, it was a different story – the sheer elation on his face as he made a birdie putt on the 18th will live long in the memory. Just look at how much it meant to him.
The Masters is postponed (2020)
Although not strictly a moment in a tournament, the cancellation of the Masters is a significant and unprecedented moment in its history. Not since World War II has such drastic action needed to be taken, which speaks volumes of the situation’s enormity. Whether or not the Masters will still be played this year remains to be seen – at the time of writing, there’s talk of it potentially being moved to October. Whenever it’s played, there’s no doubt its postponement will be remembered for many years to come.
‘That chip’ from Tiger (2005)
This cinematic scene might be the greatest Masters moment of the 21st century. Woods was at the 16th with a one-shot lead over Chris DiMarco – however, DiMarco sat comfortably in the centre of the green while Woods was in the rough on the edge of the green. Few gave Woods a chance of even getting the ball up and down for par, never mind what was to follow. Woods’ chip started 20 feet from the hole, rolled down the slope and paused for a couple of seconds for good measure before dropping into the hole (like something out of a Nike advert). Woods made birdie and went on to win his third Masters title. We’ll leave the last word on this to legendary commentator Verne Lundquist: “Oh, wow! In your life have you seen anything like that?”
Tiger roars back (2019)
Of course, Woods’ victory in 2005 was the last time he would win at Augusta for 14 years. A new generation of golf fans – including Woods’ children – had never seen him win a major, and he became shrouded in controversy, injury and personal tragedy in the intervening years. Not to mention, he hadn’t won a single tournament since 2013. Last year, he put all of that behind him and played like the Tiger of old, picking up his fifth Masters win and 15th major overall. Some say it’s the greatest individual sporting comeback since Muhammad Ali – and it’s tough to argue against that.