Masters History: Top 10 Most Memorable Moments from Augusta

Daniel KockContributor IIIApril 6, 2012

Masters History: Top 10 Most Memorable Moments from Augusta

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    Breathtaking birdies, incredible shots and heart-wrenching collapses make the Masters truly a tradition unlike any other.

    Great moments on other courses play second fiddle to what takes place at Augusta National.

    The best golfers play their best in the greatest tournaments. That is how a golfer becomes great.

    Other PGA Tour wins are an incredible feat, but winning at the Masters takes golfers onto a whole new level.

    Will the 2012 Masters produce more memorable moments?

    Golf fans across the country watch in anticipation for such a moment, but until then here's a look at the 10 most memorable moments from past Masters tournaments.

10. Rory McIlroy: 2011

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    Rory McIlroy dominated the first three rounds of the Masters in 2011, only to unravel on the back nine and finish well off the pace.

    McIlroy was drawing comparisons with Tiger Woods and his dominance in 1997. Only 21 years old at the time, McIlroy held a 4-stroke lead after 54 holes.

    He had his first major championship in sight.

    Then he stepped to the hole 10. McIlroy hooked a drive in between two cabins and finished with a triple bogey.

    The moment when viewers knew it was over came at hole 13. McIlroy drove his tee shot into the creek and put his head down in utter disbelief.

    It was over. McIlroy finished with an 80 and will be remembered for one of the worst collapses in Masters history.

9. Gene Sarazen: 1935

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    Unfortunately for Gene Sarazen, his "shot heard 'round the world" happened over 75 years ago.

    No television captured the moment that probably deserves a higher ranking.

    Sarazen was staring at a 235-yard second shot on the par-5 15th hole. Sarazen pulled out a 4-wood and drained it for the first double-eagle in Masters history.

    That shot helped to propel him into a 36-hole playoff with Craig Wood, which Sarazen went on to win.

    It was the only green jacket Sarazen would win during his career, but it did get the Sarazen Bridge named after him at Augusta.

    "The shot heard 'round the world" still stands as one of the top moments in Masters history.

8. Byron Nelson: 1942

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    Byron Nelson continues the theme of historical moments that still remain relevant.

    Nelson matched up with Ben Hogan in a 18-hole playoff in 1942. Two of the greatest golfers in the history of the game did not disappoint.

    Both golfers played very well that day, but it was Nelson who edged out Hogan by one stroke with a 69.

    It was Hogan who looked to have the edge during the playoff as he held a five-stroke lead.

    However, Nelson went on a torrid run in which he shot six-under during an 11-hole stretch.

    It was the second and final green jacket Nelson would win during his impressive career.

7. Phil Mickelson: 2004

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    Phil Mickelson was labeled as the golfer who couldn't finish a major in 2004.

    Mickelson had choked away leads in past tournaments, but could erase those memories with one putt.

    Mickelson eyed an 18-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole. Mickelson was deadlocked with Ernie Els and could win the tournament with the putt.

    Mickelson sank the putt and jumped in the air in celebration of his first Masters victory. He became just the fourth golfer in Masters history to win the tournament with a birdie on the final hole.

    Mickelson used that moment to escalate his career toward greatness. Until then, he was a very good golfer.

    Eight years and two green jackets later, Mickelson is one of the best golfers on tour. He can look back at that 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole at Augusta National as the hole that escalated his career.

6. Larry Mize: 1987

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    Larry Mize looked to be in trouble as he approached his ball 140 yards away from the pin on hole 11.

    Mize's second shot was well off the green on the second playoff hole and his opponent, Greg Norman, had just a 20-foot birdie putt.

    Mize pulled out a sand wedge, needing to get close to hope to tie on the hole. Mize did one better by sinking the shot from the fairway.

    Mize leapt in the air and ran up the fairway in jubilation. All the pressure shifted to Norman who eventually missed the birdie putt.

    Mize was the Masters champion, and it was just the beginning of horrid luck for Norman at Augusta National.

5. Tiger Woods: 1997

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    Tiger Woods destroyed the field in 1997. The 21-year-old Woods set numerous records in a truly remarkable tournament.

    Woods became the youngest golfer to win the Masters, he set the tournament scoring record at 18-under par and the 12-stroke margin of victory was the largest ever at a Masters.

    The signature moment for Woods in 1997 was not what he did on the course. Woods came off the green at 18 and embraced his father, Eldrick Woods.

    That moment revealed how young Woods was at the time and demonstrated how incredible the performance was for such a young player.

    Obviously, that tournament was a preview of great things to come. The performance of 1997 is one of the greatest ever and is one of the most memorable moments in Masters history.

4. Greg Norman: 1996

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    Greg Norman is remembered for all the wrong reasons at the Masters tournament.

    Norman was a very good player who could never catch a break. In 1996, Norman held a six-shot lead but faltered miserably in his final round.

    Like McIlroy, it all fell apart on the back nine.

    After nine holes, Norman still held a two-shot lead. However, Norman shot a 40 on the last nine holes and watched Nick Faldo put on the green jacket.

    Norman finished with a 78 and had an emotional embrace with Faldo on hole 18.

    Norman never got a green jacket during his career and, unfortunately for him, is remembered for his struggles and shortcomings.

3. Jack Nicklaus: 1986

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    Jack Nicklaus could have his own top 10 of memorable Masters moments. It's surprising the six-time winner only gets one top moment on this list.

    In 1986, Nicklaus entered the final round trailing Norman by four strokes. He also found himself trailing Tom Watson, Tom Kite, Seve Ballesteros and Nick Price.

    Nickalus shot an incredible 30 on the back nine which included an eagle-birdie-birdie streak starting at hole 15.

    Nicklaus punctuated the streak with a birdie on 17 as he gained sole possession of the lead that he wouldn't relinquish.

    The 46-year-old Nicklaus became the oldest winner of the Masters and demonstrated he could still play at an elite level at an old age.

2. Phil Mickelson: 2010

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    Mickelson makes another appearance on the list. The shot Mickelson hit on the 13th is what makes or breaks him.

    In 2010, Mickelson held a slim lead over Lee Westwood but found himself in trouble in the pines after his tee shot.

    Mickelson was 207 yards from the hole in between two pine trees. The logical shot for Mickelson would be to lay-up on the par 5 and give himself a chance for a birdie or par.

    Mickelson pulled out a 6-iron and decided to go over the creek and for the green.

    Mickelson struck the ball perfectly and landed just four feet away from the hole. He pulled off an improbable shot that very few players would even attempt.

    The shot had the potential to end his tournament. It took guts and was the defining moment in Mickelson's third Masters victory.

1. Tiger Woods: 2005

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    Tiger Woods' chip-in at hole 16 rounds out the list of memorable Masters moments.

    Woods was in a battle with Chris DiMarco in 2005. Woods entered the third round trailing by six strokes but made a roaring comeback.

    Woods sat just off the green at 16 after his tee shot. Woods aimed well away from the pin. Verne Lundquist said his aim was 25-feet above the hole.

    Woods found his line, struck the chip and watched. The ball trickled down the slope and inched its way toward the hole.

    The ball had a perfect line and the ball stopped for a split second centimeters from the hole. The Nike logo faced the camera for that split second before the ball disappeared in the hole.

    Woods gave his patented fist-pump and gave caddie Steve Williams an emphatic high-five.

    Woods used the shot to force a playoff, which he won on the first hole to claim his fourth green jacket.

    The drama involved in that shot on 16 is indescribable and is the reason the Masters is so fun to watch.