SPORTS

Green Dreams: The 70th Masters tees off April 6. Get primed by reliving the seven most mesmerizing shots in tourney history.

3/26/2006

Maybe there’s something about the air in Augusta, but the birdies, eagles and albatross shots scored here have a tendency to trickle hole-ward bound in a theatrical fashion.



Maybe there’s something about the air in Augusta, but the birdies, eagles and albatross shots scored here have a tendency to trickle hole-ward bound in a theatrical fashion. In honour of the 70th edition of the Masters, golf’s most storied tournament, lets count down the seven most mesmerizing shots in tournament history.


7) 1992-Coring the Apple (Jeff Sluman)
The only golfer in tournament history to ace the 4th hole at Augusta National is 1988 PGA champ Jeff Sluman. A deceptively straightforward par-3 called Flowering Crab Apple, the 4th features a green that slopes to the front and is sandwiched between two bunkers. The Apple had proven a rotten spot for Rochester, New York native Jeff Sluman in the past. In 1989 he was three over par on the hole for the tournament, once he even four-putted from just 15-feet out. In the first round of the 56th Masters Sluman’s luck would turn sweet. From the tee-box Sluman launched a beauty with his four-iron. He could tell he was in good shape when his drive touched down and bounced toward the flag, but then watched in amazement as his ball proceeded to roll straight into the cup. "The hole has always been a big bugaboo for me. It looked pretty good when it left the club, but I never thought it would go in," said Sluman, Flowering Crab Apple.

6) 1975- Dancing on the Green(Jack Nicklaus)

Redbud, the 16th hole at Augusta, can turn a birdie into a bogey in a heartbeat. Golfers
must clear a pond and bend their ball slightly to the left to avoid splashing in. Touching down safely isn’t reason to breath a sigh of relief. Byron Nelson once hit a ball right at the flagstick that hit it’s mark and then rolled into the drink. Once solidly on, Redbud’s treacherous putting surface has caused many a pro to throw up. Not in the literal sense mind you. “Throwing up” is golfer-speak for letting your nerves get the best of you. Well nerves never seemed to bother the Golden Bear who boldly drilled a 40-footer into the cup for birdie on this hole on the final day of the Masters. Jack Nicklaus and his caddie Willie Peterson celebrated the wondrous stroke by dancing on the green. According to golf scribe Dan Jenkins, the blissful duo resembled Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Nicklaus stayed footloose on the next two holes and went on to win the tournament by one stroke over Johnny Miller and Tom Weiskopf.

5) 2004- Easter Glory (Phil Mickelson)

A jam-packed gallery of well-wishers who had been cheering Phil Mickelson on all Sunday long, along with millions at home on their couches, waited in quiet anticipation as the best player in the game to have not won a major tournament prepped for an 18-footer on the 18th hole that would seal the deal. Playing partner Chris DiMarco who was three inches shy of Mickelson’s ball marker had just missed his attempt and so Mickelson had the luxury to take in every centimetre of that ball’s trajectory before he hit his. Mickelson’s putt trickled with purpose from right to left, hit the cup’s lip, and dropped in the hole for a birdie and victory. Mickelson leapt into the air in jubilation and then rushed to embrace his wife and young children. "Daddy's won!" he gushed.

4) 1987- Sunday Surprise (Larry Mize)

Mize, an Augusta local, was tied with Seve Ballesteros and Greg Norman after four rounds of play. Seve Ballesteros three-putted the first hole of the playoff and it was down to two. The next hole was White Dogwood, a par 4. Mize flubbed his approach shot, missing the green by a wide margin. To everybody watching it looked like Norman was now a cinch to win. Mize was 140 feet away from the flag. He needed a miracle and he got one. His chip shot made three bounces and then proceeded to roll halfway across the 11th green and then plunked in at the pin. “I'll tell you, I'm the luckiest man. My dream when I was a little child growing up here finally came true,” said Mize afterwards.

3) 1962—Chirping finish (Arnold Palmer)

Trailing behind leaders Dow Finsterwald and Gary Player by two strokes, Arnold Palmer made his way over to the 16th green to meet his ball which lay 45-feet short of the pin. Most golfers in this position would at least in the back of their minds resign themselves to the possibility of a second or third place finish but Arnold Palmer never gave away tournaments without a fight. There’s good reason he ended up having an army named after him. Palmer took out his wedge and expertly pitched his ball straight on target and it rolled right to the pin for birdie. He followed that spectacular display by knocking in a 12-footer on the 17th for birdie to tie for the lead. Arnie would win the tournament in a three-way playoff on the Monday and pocket a cool $20 000.

2) 1935—The Shot Heard Round the World (Gene Sarazen)

Nope, nothing to do with the first musket shot that kicked off the American Revolutionary War, but in golf circles this was equally momentous. Gene Sarazen won 39 PGA tournaments in his career including a trio of PGA Championships, a pair of U.S. Opens and a British Open. He also is credited with inventing the modern sand wedge in 1930. But bring up Sarazen’s name in a clubhouse and odds are you’ll get a story about his 235-yard approach shot that bounced into the par-5 15th hole for a double-eagle. Not only did Sarazen end up winning the tournament but he became a permanent fixture of the Masters in 1955 when a bridge beside the 15th green was named in his honour.

1) 2005—The Shot that Took Everybody’s Breath Away (Tiger Woods)

“Oh-My-Goodness… Oh Wow … In Your Life Have you seen anything like that,” exclaimed CBS commentator Verne Lundquist after Tiger Woods’ slow rolling chip hung onto the lip of the 16th cup, dramatically pausing for a full three seconds before finally taking plunge for birdie. "I think under the circumstances, it's one of the best shots I've ever hit,” Tiger later told reporters. Woods went on to win the tournament for the fourth time on the first extra hole of a playoff against Chris DiMarco. To date Tiger has won ten majors. Eight more and he’ll be even with Jack Nicklaus.


LAST 10 MASTERS CHAMPS

2005, 2002, 2001, 1997 - Tiger Woods
2004 - Phil Mickelson
2003 - Mike Weir
2000 - Vijay Singh
1999 - Jose Maria Olazabal
1998 - Mark O'Meara
1996 - Nick Faldo


Copyright © Mike Dojc, 2006

If I left out one of your favourites, please let me know in the comments.

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