The Top 10 greatest shots ever played at the Masters
With the Masters almost upon us, we take a trip down memory lane to recount some of the best shots ever played at the famous tournament.
Already a 17-time major champion, and with his last major victory coming six years earlier at the age of 40, fans of the legendary Nicklaus would have been forgiven for thinking his time had passed.
But it turned out ‘The Golden Bear’ had one more major triumph left in him.
Coming at the 1986 Masters courtesy of a spectacular charge on the back nine that saw Nicklaus go eagle-birdie-birdie on 15, 16, and 17, no shot was more memorable than the clutch 12-footer he holed for birdie on the 17th.
Nicklaus signed for a 65, and then looked on as Tom Kite, Seve Ballesteros and Greg Norman faltered on the way home, handing him his sixth green jacket.
It was in the final round of the 1935 Masters – just one year after the tournament debuted – that Gene Sarazen hit “the shot heard ’round the world”.
Trailing Craig Wood by three strokes with four holes to play, Sarazen needed something special, and he found it in the form a 4-wood that travelled all of 235 yards, clearing a pond and going into the hole for a double eagle.
It tied him for the lead, and after parring his way home, he beat Wood in a play-off the following day to win the title.
With one shot, Sarazen helped popularise what was then known as the Augusta National Invitation Tournament, and has since gone on to become the Masters.
Bubba Watson looked to be in serious trouble on the second sudden-death play-off hole against Louis Oosthuizen in 2012.
Having struck a wayward drive that found the trees on the right, Watson needed a miracle, and that’s just what he ended up getting.
Presented with a shot that only a highly unorthodox left-hander could pull off, the highly unorthodox left-hander produced a huge hook with his pitching wedge that landed and spun backwards to settle 10 feet from the hole.
Watson salvaged a par while Oosthuizen bogeyed, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Leading by two shots in 2010, Phil Mickelson was staring down the barrel of a bogey or worse after his tee shot on the par-5 13th landed on the pine needles next to a tree right of the fairway.
The smart play surely would have been a lay-up, but Mickelson had other ideas, finding the gap between two trees with a 6-iron that travelled over 200 yards, clearing the tributary of Rae’s Creek and settling a few feet from the pin.
While he missed the eagle putt that followed, the birdie stretched his lead to three and set up his eventual victory.
There was a feeling of inevitability about what happened at the 2005 Masters.
Woods, right in the midst of his glory years, was looking to protect a slender one-shot lead over Chris DiMarco when he hit his tee shot long and left on the short 16th.
With the ball resting against the collar of the first cut of rough, Woods opted for a low, spinning pitch shot, and then watched it make its way towards the hole along with everyone else in attendance.
Just as the ball appeared to stop short and hang on the lip, it dropped, and Augusta erupted.
Woods went on to beat DiMarco in a play-off – as if there was ever going to be another winner.
While this shot didn’t result in a victory for Oosthuizen (see Bubba Watson’s shot on this list for the reason why), it makes the cut as the longest double eagle in the history of the tournament.
From more than 250 yards out on the par-5 second, the South African fired a 4-iron to the left of the green and then looked on as it rolled from left to right across the putting surface and into the centre of the cup.
Oosthuizen picked up three shots in the process, and came within a whisker of going on to win the title.
For someone who has never won the Masters, Oosthuizen sure has hit a lot of good shots at Augusta.
In 2016, he was one of three players to make an ace on the par-three-16th. Shane Lowry and Davis Love III were the others.
However, Oosthuizen’s was the most dramatic as his ball ricocheted off JB Homes’ en route to the bottom of the cup.
It was not enough to get him over the line though. He finished in a tie for 15th.
If Oosthuizen keeps flushing them like this, it is surely a matter of time before he is clad in Augusta green.
Larry Mize and Greg Norman were locked in battle on the second hole of a sudden-death play-off at the 1987 Masters.
Norman’s approach found the edge of the green, while Mize was way right, leaving him with 150 yards to go.
Having already been denied by Jack Nicklaus years earlier, Norman seemed destined to finally don the green jacket.
Unfortunately, the golfing gods had other ideas. Mize stepped up and bounced his third shot right into the hole, setting off one of the most memorable celebrations Augusta has ever seen.
Suddenly, Norman needed a birdie just to tie. It didn’t drop, and Mize was the champion.
So good we had to mention him twice, Nicklaus’ 40-foot putt for birdie at 16 on Sunday in 1975 deserves to go down in history with the rest.
Nicklaus was trailing Tom Weiskopf by one at the time, and leaving his tee shot into the par-3 well short didn’t appear to do him any favours.
But right when it mattered most, Nicklaus delivered, holing the monster putt before a shaken Weiskopf three-putted, allowing the lead to change hands.
Nicklaus parred his way home, good enough for victory and his fifth green jacket.
Back in 1960, the great Arnold Palmer found himself one shot down as he stood over the 17th tee on the final day at Augusta.
What followed was one of the most memorable one-two punches in golfing history. A 30-foot putt for birdie on the 17th followed by a sublime 6-iron approach shot at the last that came to rest just five feet from the hole.
Palmer sank the putt and robbed Ken Venturi of his green jacket in broad daylight.
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