AUGUSTA, Georgia — No other major championship has a greater collection of signature shots than the Masters, mainly because it’s the only major held on the same course. And it helps that Augusta National is such a course that allows for such big moments.
There has been an eagle made on every hole except for the par 5s, where there has been an albatross on all of those, with Louis Oosthuizen finally get a “2” on the par-5 second hole last year.
According to an Associated Press story from 1935, there were only about 2,000 people in the gallery when Gene Sarazen holed out his 4-wood on the par-5 15th hole in 1935. Thousands more later claimed to witness the historic shot.
Here’s one list of the five greatest shots in Masters history:
5. Jack Nicklaus in 1986
No list of great shots at Augusta National should exclude Jack Nicklaus, a six-time champion. His 30 on the back nine in 1986, which carried him to his sixth green jacket, was the most famous charge of all. If there was a signature moment, it happened on the par-3 16th.
Nicklaus was coming off an eagle when he walked over to the 16th tee, which was playing about 175 yards. He hit a 5-iron, and as the ball was still climbing, Nicklaus stooped over and picked up the tee — partly because he couldn’t see so well, partly because he knew he hit it how he wanted.
His son, Jackie, was caddying for him that week and said, “Be right.”
Nicklaus replied, “It is.”
And it was.
The ball landed right of the pin and trickled down, narrowly missing a hole-in-one and leaving him a short birdie putt that he converted on his way to victory.
4. Sandy Lyle in 1988
Sandy Lyle had the lead going into the final round of the 1988 Masters, but found himself in a tight battle with Mark Calcavecchia on the back nine. He was tied for the lead going to the last hole, knowing he would need a birdie to win.
Hitting a 1-iron into the first of two bunkers down the left side of the fairway was probably not the best way to make birdie.
That’s when Lyle delivered one of the greatest shots on the closing hole at Augusta. He hit a 7-iron just over the tall lip of the bunker, and the shot covered the flag and landed beyond the pin, rolling back to 10 feet.
Lyle made the birdie putt to become the first British player in a green jacket.
3. Tiger Woods in 2005
Tiger Woods found himself in a surprising duel along the back nine in 2005 with Chris DiMarco. Woods had a one-shot lead with three holes to play, and he looked to be in trouble when he went long on the par-3 16th hole, and DiMarco had a 15-foot birdie putt.
The pin was in its traditional Sunday position, and Woods was in the wrong spot. He had to play the chip away from the flag and catch the slope just right, hopefully without too much speed that it would run by the hole and leave himself a tough putt for par. After measuring the shot for the longest time, he sent his pitch up the slope, and it slowly made a U-turn toward the hole.
The ball broke gently to the left and looked like it might go in, except that it was slowing to a stop. One last turn moved it an inch from the hole. Another turn left it on the on the edge of the cup. And after 2 full seconds, gravity took over and the ball disappeared for birdie.
Despite such a dramatic moment for a two-shot lead, Woods bogeyed the next two holes and had to make one last birdie in a playoff to win.
2. Bubba Watson in 2012
The final round of the 2012 Masters produced the rarest shot in golf when Louis Oosthuizen holed out a 4-iron on the par-5 second hole for an albatross. At the end of the day, Bubba
Watson hit a shot that was rare in its own right. It was a shot only Bubba could hit.
Watson and Oosthuizen headed to the 10th hole for the second playoff hole, and Watson was in trouble. He hit driver deep into the woods to the right of the fairway. Watson hung his head for a moment, figuring he would have to scramble for any chance of par. He always tells his caddie, “If I have a swing, I have a shot.”
No one could have drawn this one up. He hit a 40-yard hook with a sand wedge, low to get under the trees, then rising to get onto the elevated green. The ball somehow landed on the green with enough side spin to turn up the hill and settle about 10 feet away. Two putts later, Watson had his par — and a green jacket.
1. Gene Sarazen in 1935
Gene Sarazen was about the only player who didn’t think the second edition of the Masters was over. Craig Wood was in the clubhouse at 6-under 282. Sarazen was in the fairway on the par-5 15th hole, three shots behind while playing with Walter Hagen.
Sarazen had a 4-wood that he called his “Dodo” club, and while he didn’t have a great lie, thought he should go for the green from 235 yards away. He tried to play it slightly off the toe to get a little extra distance, and the shot came off perfectly.
The ball bounced just short of the green, hopped on and rolled into the cup for an albatross. Sarazen closed with three pars to force a playoff, and he beat Wood over 36 holes the next day.
It remains the most important shot in tournament history because it put the Masters on the map.