The Top Five Shots in Masters History

Greg KinzerContributor IApril 9, 2009

AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 08:  Tiger Woods hits a shot during a practice round prior to the 2009 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 8, 2009 in Augusta, Georgia.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

The Masters is the only major championship played at the same location year after year. golf writer Greg Kinzer presents the top five shots in the history of the tournament.


Since the Masters Tournament inception in 1934, there have been many champions crowned.  Each owner of the green jacket (presented to the winner of the tournament) can point to one shot that propelled him into to the Butler Cabin for the winner’s interview, and each of those shots are very memorable.


But when we break down the top five shots in the history of the tournament, we have to narrow down the field.  Forget par saves, nice-and-tight approach shots, and lucky bounces.  This top five list consists of the shots you have seen over and over, and help to define a competitor’s career—for the good or the bad. 


With that, here is my unofficial top five, starting with number five.  Keep in mind that these are the top five shots that decided a tournament, not a Sunday back nine charge.  Send all complaints my way—I look forward to hearing other’s opinions!




Top Shot No. 5: Phil Mickelson’s Birdie on 18 Outlasts Els


Much had been made of Mickelson’s zero for forty-something record in the Majors, including being robbed of titles by Payne Stewart at the U.S. Open and by David Toms at the PGA Championship.  He was the loveable loser, insisting on winning (or losing) his way with crazy recovery shots that defied imagination and drove NBC analyst Johnny Miller insane. 


But in 2004, Mickelson put all of this to rest, shooting a back nine 31 that helped him overcome two eagles and a Sunday-best 67 by Ernie Els.  Mickelson’s 18-foot birdie putt on the last hole was famous for two reasons—it sealed Mickelson’s first major championship and demonstrated his apparent lack of vertical jump.




Top Shot No. 4: Scott Hoch Chokes a Championship Away


When you look at past Masters results you will see that Nick Faldo has won three Green Jackets.  In reality, he won one and was gift-wrapped two others.  One was gifted to him in that heartbreaking collapse by Greg Norman in 1996 but the other is forgotten. 


Scott Hoch lost to Norman in the second hole of a sudden death playoff in 1989, but the storyline was set roughly 15 minutes before, when Hoch’s 30-inch par putt on the first hole of the playoff started left and rolled past, never scaring the edge of the cup.  Faldo then drilled a 30-foot snake in the weakening sunlight on the next hole to win, but the missed knee-knocker was what is now referred to unfortunately as the “Hoch Choke”.




Top Shot No. 3: Tiger Woods  Makes Verne Lundquist Scream


In 2006, Tiger pulled his approach at the par three 16th hole (commonly referred to as the prettiest hole in golf) to the left of the cup, leaving himself one of those “Masters” shots where he was forced to play a shot 90 degrees from the hole.  The resulting trickle...trickle...trickle...stop-and-drop bump-and-run was replayed for weeks as a Nike ad. 


What keeps this shot from being higher?  Tiger went bogey-bogey on the next two holes and was forced to win a sudden death playoff against gritty Chris DiMarco.  Also keep in mind the very awkward high-five with caddy Steve Williams.  Those shortcomings aside, it was a great shot by the best player of our era.




Top Shot No. 2: Larry Mize Breaks Greg Norman’s Heart in Sudden Death


I love the fact that the winner of the Masters Championship receives a lifetime invite (which now means you can play as long as you can break 80).  I hate the fact that Greg Norman is not included on that list, despite all his chances.  But Larry Mize drove the proverbial dagger in Norman in 1987 when he holed out a sudden-death winning 140-foot pitch-runner from well right of the 11th hole green. 


Some say that had the ball not hit the center of the flag it would STILL be rolling.  Hence, Larry Mize will make a token yearly appearance at the Masters in 2009 and Norman will appear only due to his surprise third place finish at the 2008 British Open.




Top Shot NUMERO UNO: Gene Sarazen’s Four-Wood Double Eagle on Hole 15


Born Eugenio Sarceni, Gene Sarazen wasted no time making a name for himself in professional golf with wins in the US Open and PGA Championship in 1932 at the age of 20.  However, he is best known for golf’s version of “the shot heard around the world,” a 235-yard four-wood that found its home at the bottom of the 15th cup in the 1935 Masters Tournament. 


The three-stroke swing forced a playoff with Craig Wood, who was unable to beat Sarazen in the 36-hole match the next day.  Not only did it give Sarazen his only Masters title and complete the career Grand Slam, but it also put Bobby Jones’ newly organized annual gathering of professionals in the public consciousness.  The only downturn is that only a few people (long deceased) saw the shot, as no video exists.

Written By: Greg Kinzer, Staff Writer


Greg Kinzer will be plastered in front of his HD television this week, soaking up every minute of glorious Masters coverage.  Contact Greg at if you want to come over to walk, or if you want to discuss other fantasy golf topics.