One of the things I look forward to the most during the NFL Playoffs, other than those completely tasteful and totally not transparent domestic violence commercials, is seeing the very first Masters commercial of the year. From the moment I hear that theme music (both the Masters song and Jim Nantz’s voice count as music) while catching a glimpse of the azaleas and dogwood plants, I immediately become excited and filled with anticipation for the tournament. The Masters Tournament means many things: the end of winter, pimento cheese sandwiches, spending the better part of the week watching golf on your computer or TV. But most importantly, The Masters means watching what is, in the opinion of many golf experts (of which I am not one), the best golf of each year.
One of four major championships on the PGA Tour, The Masters naturally provides golf fans the opportunity to see the most spectacular and memorable moments in the game of golf, either at Augusta National or from the comfort of your living room. Now, I understand that golf isn’t everyone’s cup of tea — my girlfriend hates the sport. But even she understands the importance of The Masters to me and has no problem with me and my friends watching all weekend long. However, any respectable postgrad that plays golf on even a semi-regular basis should spend at least Saturday and Sunday afternoon watching the tournament and enjoying the spectacle that ensues.
In honor of The Masters and for your viewing pleasure, I have documented my favorite Masters moments from the last decade (in reverse chronological order). If you disagree with my selection, or think I missed a particularly important moment, please feel free to make a note of it in the comments section. Or don’t, I’m not your boss.
Louis Oosthuizen’s Albatross (2012)
Louis Oosthuizen (“oost-haze-en”), the South African with the unpronounceable name, eventually finished runner-up in the 2012 Masters in a playoff to Bubba Watson. But in the final round on the par-5 second hole, Oosthuizen scored the rarest shot in golf: an albatross. On his second shot, Oosthuizen pulled a 4-iron, merely hoping to get the ball onto the front edge of the undulating green. The ball managed to make it to the front of the green, but kept on rolling — eventually straight into the cup, for the fourth albatross in Masters history and the first on Hole No. 2. Unfortunately for our South African friend, he ended up losing in the playoff to Bubba, so his incredible shot was overshadowed.
Bubba’s Shot From The Pine (2012)
I became a Bubba fan in 2011 after seeing his awesome Golf Boys video (yeah, I’m one of those). In the 2012 Masters, Bubba Watson finished the final round regulation with a 68, tied for the lead with Louis Oosthuizen. The two would go on to begin extra holes in a playoff, and both golfers made par on the first playoff hole. On the second extra frame, Bubba pulled a huge drive into the pine underneath the trees on the right of the 10th fairway. Bubba stepped up to the ball with a gap wedge, channeled the power from his mighty chest flow, and took his shot, managing to spin the ball up the hill to within fifteen feet of the hole. Two putts later, Bubba officially earned the title of Masters Champion to add to his equally prestigious title of “Golf Boy.” My love for Bubba has waned through the years, as has the love held for him by his fellow tour members, apparently, but this shot I will forever remember as one of the best.
McIlroy’s Meltdown (2011)
Rory McIlroy charged to prominence on the PGA Tour in 2009 and 2010, dazzling spectators with his beautiful swing, impressive driving distance (know what they say about a guy with long drives?), and disarmingly sexy Irish accent. While not the frontrunner for victory going into the 2011 Masters Tournament, Rory absolutely killed it during the first three rounds, going into Sunday’s fourth round four strokes ahead of the nearest competitor. Then, suddenly, like when the first person dies in a B-rated horror flick, things took a dark turn. Tiger’s heir-apparent shot an 80, finishing tied for fifteenth place. It was a meltdown of epic proportions, so large that McIlroy took the next month off from professional golf, presumably to drown his sorrows in booze and women. But since then, Rory has bounced back, and is looking to complete his career Major Grand Slam this weekend.
Mickelson’s Miracle Shot From The Trees (2010)
Before 2004, Phil Mickelson was known as the “best golfer never to win a major.” Phil went on to win The Masters in 2004, his first Major Championship win, and began cementing his legacy as one of golf’s greats. Well, it was either that or his appearance in arthritis pill commercials. Those arthritis pills must have worked, because Lefty won the Masters two more times, his second victory earned thanks in part to an incredible shot on the 13th hole. After his drive missed the fairway, Phil was looking at a difficult shot from the pine, over Rae’s Creek, and 207 yards from the hole. We mere mortals would have probably laid up and hoped for a decent approach shot for birdie. But not Lefty — Phil went for the green and stuck the ball to within four feet of the pin. He missed the four-foot eagle putt (classic Phil) but birdied the hole and would go on to win his third Masters Championship.
Tiger’s Chip at 16 (2005)
This last shot is my absolute favorite golf moment of all time, and after watching the video, I hope that you, dear reader, will agree. In the 2005 Masters, Tiger Woods was facing a difficult up and down on the 16th hole. I won’t even attempt to do the moment justice, so just watch the video for Verne Lundquist’s commentary. What I will say, though, is that no matter how many times I watch this shot, I still get chills when the ball finally drops in the cup. This is vintage Tiger — the Tiger we all dearly hope shows up to Augusta National this week..