David Cannon/Getty Images
That longtime rival would of course be Jack Nicklaus, winner of 72 PGA Tour titles and 17 major championships heading into the 1986 season.
In fact, that is where most people thought Nicklaus would stay. He hadn't won a tournament in two years, and he hadn't won a major championship in six.
At age 46, the Golden Bear was just too old to capture one last major title. After all, Nicklaus had missed the cut in two of his past three majors.
Nicklaus did show some good form that week, though, and with 10 holes left in the final round, he was four shots back and looked likely to pick up a solid finish.
Prospects looked even better when Nicklaus made a 15-footer for birdie on nine. He climbed even higher up the leaderboard with a 25-footer on 10. Then on 11, Nicklaus holed another 25-footer, and now, he was only two back!
Wait, could Nicklaus really win this tournament?
Unfortunately, as fast as Nicklaus climbed up the leaderboard, he just as quickly fell back into the pack. A bogey at 12 killed his momentum, and although he countered with a birdie at 13, a Seve Ballesteros eagle at the same hole left Nicklaus four shots down with four holes to play.
Desperate now, Nicklaus smashed a drive down 15 and left himself in prime position to go for the green in two. Four-iron in hand from 202 yards out, Nicklaus hit a glorious shot that ended 15 feet left of the pin and in prime position for the eagle he needed.
Unwilling to believe his dream for a sixth green jacket was dead, Nicklaus dropped the putt to a deafening roar. He was now just two strokes behind Ballesteros.
On 16 tee, Nicklaus continued to press. The Bear took out a five-iron, hit it exactly how he wanted and watched as his ball hit just short of the hole, spun left and almost went right in the cup. The crowd went into a near frenzy.
Nicklaus made the three-footer for birdie on 16, birdied 17 and got into the clubhouse with a final-round 65 after playing his last 10 holes in 7 under par.
This Masters was fantastic enough with Nicklaus' mighty charge, but it wasn't even over yet. Ballesteros, one ahead of Nicklaus at the time, stood in the 15th fairway with a four-iron and a chance to go for the green in two.
In a very strange scene, Ballesteros, a top-caliber professional golfer, hit his approach so heavy that it never came close to clearing the water. A bogey there and one on 17 sunk his chances.
Next was Tom Kite, a young star still looking for his first major. Kite had 12 feet for birdie to tie Nicklaus on 18 and hit what he thought was a good putt. In fact, he knew it was in the hole until it slid over the left lip at the last second. Another bullet dodged, one more to go.
Greg Norman was the last to go for Nicklaus. Birdies at 14, 15, 16 and 17 tied him for the lead, and Norman had a four-iron approach to the final green and a chance to win or force a playoff. But the Aussie hit an awful shot, some 30 yards right into the gallery.
A chip and two putts later, Nicklaus was the champion.
Not only had Nicklaus put up the greatest and most electrifying charge in tournament history, but he also had fended off a pack of hungry opponents in the process.
And that is why the 1986 edition of the Masters is the greatest one to date.