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The Numbers Game: My Masters Moments


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By Dave Koster via TheSandTrap.com
Every true golf fan loves the Masters. Some of my favorite golf moments are from watching the events unfolding in Augusta.

tng_title.gifThere are a lot of great Masters moments. When I was growing up and starting to play and appreciate the game a bit, the scenes at Augusta were the ones that stood out. I wanted to take some time this week to look at the moments I remember most vividly… and some of the numbers behind them.

Number 5 - Ben Crenshaw's Emotional Victory (1995)
Wednesday you are a pallbearer at your mentor's and friend's funeral. The next day you are teeing off in the first and most important major of the year. How would you perform?



Ben Crenshaw took all that emotion and poured it into his golf game. His performance was amazing, but consider that 53.7% of his yearly earnings earnings came from the Masters. Ben's 1995 stats were:



Driving Distance 172nd
Driving Accuracy 79th
Greens in Regulation 159th
Putting Average 49th
Putts Per Round 23rd

In other words, Ben didn't have a great year, but he rose to the occasion that week and won despite missing three out of four cuts going into the Masters, having a statistically average (at best) year and all the emotional baggage. Amazing.



Number 4 - Phil Wins First Major (2004)
I'm not a big Mickelson fan… but it was good to finally see him win his first major. Phil had been (and remains to be) one of the most consistent Masters performers. It was only a matter of time until he broke through and won a major. Doing it at the Masters was even less of a surprise. Look at his finishes leading up to 2004:



1999 T6
2000 T7
2001 3
2002 3
2003 3

It had to be Augusta for Lefty. He nearly did it at Pinehurst first, but I'm betting he's glad it came at the Masters.



Number 3 - Norman Chokes (1996)
This was the most painful experiences I've ever had watching golf in my life. I truly wanted Norman to win and thought I would be watching a Sunday round with Greg enjoying nice walk around Augusta. Unfortunately, he had to play the round.



Lost in this was one of the great final rounds in Masters history by Nick Faldo. He shot a closing round 67 to win going away after Norman dropped shot after shot. Still, after all of this, Greg faced the music and answered every question after his round. As painful as it was for him, Norman stood up and earned a lot of respect. It's hard to imagine that this was 10 years ago.



Number 2 - Tiger's First Master Win (1997)
The next year, Nick Faldo got to put the first green jacket on Tiger. After the pain of Norman, this was a breath of fresh air. Woods had a near perfect tournament winning by 12 shots over Tom Kite.



Tiger took a three-shot lead going into the Saturday round and a nine shot lead after he carded a 65 that day. Topping it all off with a 69, Tiger was never challenged… and probably wouldn't have been by any of the greats before.



So what about the numbers? Well here is where his score ranked in each round:



Round 1 70 4th
Round 2 66 1st
Round 3 65 1st
Round 4 69 5th

To me, that is amazing. Tiger was in the top five every single round. He never took a round off even Sunday when he had the tournament wrapped up. Of course most of us thought the same thing the year earlier.

Number 1 - The Olden Golden Bear (1986)
Jack may be past his prime playing years at Augusta, but he provided probably one of the most memorable golf moments in 1986. Being an impressionable near-12-year-old child at the time, it was one of those things that lit the golfing fire inside of me.



It seemed that the Bear was getting better with age. The other thing that was getting better over time was his score. Jack's four rounds went 74-71-69-65… improving every single day.



The feat an aging Nicklaus pulled off should be a lift to some of the older veterans on tour. Vijay Singh is ranked #2 in the world even at 43… only a few years shy of Jack in 1986. There might be some more magic for Vijay not only because he has the game, but he also won't be affected as much by the changes by Hootie and the gang.

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