It gets grouped in with the PGA Championship, the British Open and the US Open as the four “major championship” tournaments in men’s professional golf, but I would venture to say that nearly any golf fan would put The Masters in a class all of its own.
You’ll get the purists that say that there’s nothing like the British Open, and while that’s true, I think in America, The Masters is held in a higher regard.
Assembling the top 10 moments in Masters history is not exactly easy.
With over 75 years of tournaments, the sheer volume of memorable moments is staggering. And the moments are not simply limited to winners, but rather the many, many moments that help validate and give credence to the reasons why millions of people spend their weekends hacking away at their local course.
Still, in this list, a certain amount of favor will be shown to those who have won, as they are most often identified with that particular year’s tournament.
Here is my list of the Top 10 moments in Masters history. I’m sure you’ll disagree with some of my choices, and some of you will abhor that your favorite moment is missing. I assure you that your favorite moment received my consideration and was placed in the honorable mention category.
#10 – Gene Sarazen, 1935 – “The Shot Heard ‘Round the World”
Probably the biggest reason that this moment is only tenth is the fact that it happened 77 years ago.
On the par-5 15th hole at Augusta National, Sarazen holed out from 235 yards on his second shot, sinking the rare double-eagle, to help force a 36-hole playoff against Craig Wood. Sarazen went on to win his only Green Jacket that day, and the Sarazen Bridge at Augusta was named in his honor.
#9 – Seve Ballesteros, 1980
Having finished second at the British Open as a 16-year old in 1974, Ballesteros was already a known commodity in the golf world. He captured his first major, the British Open, in 1979, and the following year Seve became the first European golfer to win The Masters, and also became the youngest golfer, at age 23, to capture a Green Jacket.
His record has since been eclipsed by Tiger Woods, but Ballesteros’ opening-round 66 helped propel him into Masters lore.
#8 – Tiger Woods, 2001 – “The Tiger Slam”
Tiger had won the last three majors in 2000, including a winning score of 19-under at the British Open, and he came into the 2001 Masters with a chance to hold all four major titles at once.
Woods finished the opening round with a 2-under 70, but made a charge up the leaderboard on Friday with a 6-under 66. Tiger took the lead on Saturday and held off the once-formidable David Duval on Sunday to complete the “Tiger Slam.”
#7 – Ben Crenshaw, 1995 – “The 15th Club”
Ben Crenshaw had already won a Green Jacket in 1984 and was clearly on the backside of his career, but Crenshaw famously played with a “15th Club” in his bag during the 1995 Masters – the spirit of Harvey Penick.
One day after serving as a pall bearer for his longtime swing coach and close friend Penick, Crenshaw was able to pull out a one-stroke victory over Davis Love III.
Crenshaw, 43 at the time, had not broken 70 in two months, but shot 70-67-69-68 to record his final PGA victory.
Crenshaw is overcome with emotions following his 1995 Masters victory.
#6 – Faldo defeats Norman, 1996
Greg Norman led the 1996 Masters by six strokes after three rounds, shooting an impressive 63-69-71 through Saturday. Through nine holes on Sunday, Norman still held a two-stroke lead, but shot a 40 on the back nine, while Nick Faldo closed with a 33 to end up with an impressive five-stroke victory.
Norman would never win a Masters in his career, while the Green Jacket was Faldo’s third in his career.
Greg Norman reacting to choking away the 1996 Masters.
#5 – Larry Mize, 1987
Mize, in a playoff with Greg Norman, sits 140 yards off the green with a sand wedge in his hand. This video says the rest.
We’ve shown you six of the ten best Masters moments of all-time. Now it’s time for the top 4, and unsurprisingly Phil, Jack, and Tiger feature prominently at the top of the list. One of them is even featured twice.
Who gets double recognition and which moment stands above all others as the top Masters moment of all time?
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