The 2011 Masters: The 25 Best Performances in Tournament History

Ron FurlongAnalyst IIApril 5, 2011

The 2011 Masters: The 25 Best Performances in Tournament History

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    AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 08:  Zach Johnson celebrates his birdie putt on the 16th green during the final round of The Masters at the Augusta National Golf Club on April 8, 2007 in Augusta, Georgia.  (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
    David Cannon/Getty Images

    The Masters has been around since 1934, and in that span of 77 years there have been some truly great, remarkable performances.

    Many of these moments have resulted in a certain golfer ultimately winning the Masters title, while others have simply been performances that stood out for a day or two during a particular year.

    Here is our attempt to nail the top 25 of all time.

    Apologies if one of your favorites was left off the list...

25. Mike Weir 2003

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    AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 13:  Mike Weir of Canada is presented with the green jacket by Tiger Woods of the USA after winning the play off after the final round of the 2003 Masters Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia on April 13, 20
    Harry How/Getty Images

    With his win at the 2003 Masters, Mike Weir became the first Canadian to win a green jacket, as well as the first lefty.

    Weir nearly blew his chances for the title with a poor 75 in the third round. Weir came back with a 68 on Sunday, and beat Len Mattiace in a playoff.  Mattiace himself had a great final round, shooting a 65 to get himself into the playoff with Weir.

24. Claude Harmon 1948

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    Harmon is the last ever club pro to win a major, when he ran away with the '48 Masters, winning by five shots.

    He topped some legends of the game, including Byron Nelson, whom he beat by ten shots.

23. Arnold Palmer 1962

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    Arnie nearly threw away the title in '62 with a final round 75.  The poor showing on Sunday required Palmer to duel Gary Player and Don Finsterwald in a playoff.

    In the 18 hole playoff Arnie beat Player by three strokes and Finsterwald by nine.

    The great performance from Palmer came not just in the playoff, but also in the early rounds, specifically the second round score of 66, which put him in a position to have a poor fourth round and still win the green jacket.

22. Chris DiMarco 2005

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    AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 10:  Chris DiMarco celebrates his par-saving putt on the 18th green during the final round of The Masters at the Augusta National Golf Club on April 10, 2005 in Augusta, Georgia.  (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
    Andrew Redington/Getty Images

    DiMarco didn't win in 2005, but he did something few have done.  He stared down Tiger Woods in a head to head battle during the final round and, for 18 holes anyway, was the better man.

    Woods took a three stroke lead into the final round on Sunday, but his playing partner, DiMarco, made up the three strokes and forced a playoff.

    Tiger ultimately won, but a great performance by DiMarco on Sunday it surely was.

21. Seve Ballesteros 1980

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    A masterful performance by the Spaniard in 1980.  Seve was so dominant all week that he had enough wiggle room to shoot a ho hum 72 on Sunday and still win by four shots.

    It was the first ever win for a European at Augusta, and the first non-American not named Gary Player to win the title.

20. Len Mattiace 2003

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    AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 13:  Len Mattiace of the USA plays his second shot on the 1st hole during the final round of the 2003 Masters Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia on April 13, 2003. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
    Harry How/Getty Images

    To date, 43 years old Len Mattiace has two PGA victories.  Although he's made some money in the sport, he's been nothing more than an afterthought on the PGA Tour over the years.

    However, he makes this list, because of one extraordinary performance in 2003.

    No, he didn't win. But he did come about as close as you can to winning a green jacket without actually doing it.

19. Angel Cabrera 2009

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    AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 12:  Angel Cabrera of Argentina celebrates during the green jacket presentation after defeating Kenny Perry on the second sudden death playoff hole to win the 2009 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 12, 2009 in A
    David Cannon/Getty Images

    Granted he had won a U.S. Open title (2007), but Cabrera's win in 2009 at Augusta National pretty much came out of nowhere.

    Cabrera was able to defeat Kenny Perry and Chad Campbell in a playoff. Perry looked to have the tournament won, but bogied both the 17th and 18th holes.

    Cabrera played steady all week, with three rounds in the 60's and then a 71 on Sunday.

    Angel became the first South American to win at The Masters.

18. Nick Faldo 1996

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    14 Apr 1996 :  Nick Faldo of England and greg Norman of Australia on the third tee during the final tound of the 1996 US Masters Golf Championship at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia. Faldo went on to win the event from Greg Norman. Mand
    David Cannon/Getty Images

    The year is often remember as the great collapse by Greg Norman, but it should also be remembered as a dominant performance from one Nick Faldo.

    Norman led Faldo by six shots heading into the final round, but by the end of the day Faldo had won the championship by five shots.  An 11 shot swing.

    Norman stumbled to a 78 while Faldo breezed to a 67.  It was Nick's third green jacket.

17. Byron Nelson 1942

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    In the 1942 Masters it was a little 18 hole playoff duel between a couple of golfers: one named Hogan, the other Nelson.

    Nelson, after struggling a bit during the final round, found his game again in the playoff.  After trailing Hogan early in the playoff (by three strokes after five holes) Nelson came storming back.  He played the final 13 holes five under par to edge Ben Hogan by a single shot.

    Classic duel.

16. Vijay Singh 2000

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    9 Apr 2000:  Vijay Singh of Fiji makes his birdie on the 18th hole during the final round of the US Masters to secure victory at Augusta National at Georgia, USA.  \ Mandatory Credit:  Andrew Redington /Allsport
    Andrew Redington/Getty Images

    Vijay took the lead on a windy Saturday when most of the field was struggling and never looked back.  He wound up winning fairly comfortably, a three shot victory over Ernie Els. 

    It was Singh's first green jacket (and to date only), and his second major. He has since added his second PGA Championship to his major resume.

15. Tiger Woods 2001

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    8 Apr 2001:  Tiger Woods of the USA celebrates with a birdie to win the Masters on the 18th green during the final day of the 2001 Masters at the Augusta National Golf Club, Augusta, GA, USA. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Munday/ALLSPORT
    Stephen Munday/Getty Images

    Tiger's second green jacket, and first of back to back wins, was impressive to say the least.

    A final score of -16 under par 272 was good for a two shot victory over David Duval. Tiger went an impressive 66, 68, 68 the final three rounds.

    With this Masters victory, Tiger completed the Tiger Slam, having won the last three majors the year before (2000).

14. Ben Crenshaw 1995

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    One of the more emotional wins at Augusta.  Crenshaw captured his second Masters title just days after his mentor, Harvey Penick, passed away.

    Crenshaw had to be on top of his game all week, with a strong field playing well.  He ended up finishing just a stroke better than Davis Love III, who nearly caught Ben on Sunday with a stellar round of 66.

13. Craig Wood 1941

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    Craig Wood had more frustrating losses at majors than almost any other golfer. Several times he was on the outside looking in with second place major finishes.  Wood was the player who was robbed of the green jacket in 1935 when Gene Sarazen holed a double eagle, which eventually forced a playoff between the two.  Sarazen would win the playoff.

    But in 1941 it was all Craig Wood.  He was the first wire to wire winner at the Masters, a feat that has been accomplished only four times since (Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Ray Floyd and Trevor Immelman).

    Wood would win 22 times on tour and two majors (he also won the U.S. Open in 41), but this was without a doubt his sweetest and best performance.

12. Tom Watson 1977

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    Just another Watson-Nicklaus duel.  This one would come a few months before their famous Duel in the Sun at Turnberry at the British Open.  Watson would ultimately triumph in both of them, and with these wins take the throne from Jack as the best player in the game.

    In the '77 Masters, Watson led Jack by three shots heading into the final round.  But Nicklaus was on his game on Sunday.

    Jack was in the second to last group, and Tom in the last.  Nicklaus had closed the gap to one shot as he sat in the fairway on 18.  Watson, on the green at 17, rolled in a 20 foot birdie putt.  The roar, just as Jack was about to hit his shot into the green, was deafening.  Jack hesitated, and then hit a poor shot into the bunker.  He made bogey and Watson won by two shots.

    They both played incredible golf that final round. Nicklaus a 66 and Watson a 67.

11. Phil Mickelson 2010

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    AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 11:  Phil Mickelson celebrates with his caddie Jim Mackay after his three-stroke victory after winning the 2010 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 11, 2010 in Augusta, Georgia.  (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty I
    Andrew Redington/Getty Images

    Mickelson's third green jacket was undoubtedly his most impressive.  A three shot win and a sizzling -16 under par.

    Mickelson also had one of the great shots in the history of the Masters. A shot out of the trees and off the pine needles, onto the green about four feet away.  Few seem to remember he missed the eagle putt, but no matter. He won comfortably.

    Lee Westwood got within two shots with a birdie on 17, but Phil sewed it up with a birdie on 18 to win by three.

10. Tiger Woods 2005

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    AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 10:  Tiger Woods celebrates after sinking a putt on the first playoff hole to win the 2005 Masters on April 10, 2005 at Augusta National Golf Course in Augusta, Georgia.  (Photo By Getty Images)
    Getty Images/Getty Images

    Tiger's fourth green jacket was definitely his most difficult.

    Chris DiMarco was the chief reason for this.

    Tiger took a three shot lead into Sunday, which had always meant in the past that he would win.  He did win, but nowhere as easily as everyone thought. 

    DiMarco ended up catching Tiger and forcing a playoff.  Woods needed one of the more remarkable shots in Masters history to get into the playoff, holing a chip in from behind the 16th green.

    In the playoff Tiger birdied the first hole to win, draining a 15 foot putt.  Great clutch play.

9. Ben Hogan 1953

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    Hogan ran away with the '53 Masters, winning by five shots over Ed Oliver.

    It would be Hogan's second and final Masters win (he also won in '51).

    In 1953 hogan won the Masters, the U.S. Open and the British Open.  However, after 1953 he would never win another major.

    This was Ben Hogan at his finest.

8. Ray Floyd 1976

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    How about -17 and an eight shot win over Ben Crenshaw and a third place Jack Nicklaus 11 back.

    Sounds like a walk in the park.

    Floyd was at the top of his game, although this would be his only Masters title.

7. Cary Middlecoff 1955

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    Only three players finished under par at the 1955 Masters.  Sam Snead one under.  Ben Hogan two under.  And Cary Middlecoff nine under.

    To say he ran away from the greats of the day is an under statement.

    Middlecoff's '55 Masters included a gem of a second round, when he shot a 65.

    His seven shot victory was the largest margin ever at the time, and that held up for another ten years until Nicklaus won the '65 Masters by nine strokes.

    It was Middlecoff's only Masters win, although he did win the U.S. Open twice, and had 41 career professional wins.

6. Gene Sarazen 1935

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    Sarazen would defeat Craig Wood in a playoff, but it is the shot he pulled off during the final round that everyone remembers best.

    Sarazen took a four wood from 235 years out on the 15th hole on Sunday and plunked it into the cup for a double eagle.  It is known as the "Shot heard 'round the World."

    Sarazen shot a 70 for the day, three better than Wood, which forced the playoff.

    It would be his only Masters title, to go along with two U.S. Open titles.

5. Arnold Palmer 1964

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    Arnie won four green jackets.  The first three were all nail biters.  Two of them one shot victories and one of them in a playoff.  The fourth, however, was a relative walk in the park.

    Palmer's six shot victory, over Jack Nicklaus and Dave Marr, was by far his easiest at Augusta.  It would be his seventh and final major.

4. Jack Nicklaus 1965

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    Ho hum.  Another green jacket by Jack (his second of six) and a -17 under par nine shot victory. 

    The nearest golfers to him were Arnold Palmer and Gary Player.  Couple of good ones, yes, but they weren't even in the same county as Jack that year.

    Safe to say he was on his game.  His weekend included a nice little 64 on Saturday.

3. Tiger Woods 1997

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    21 year old Tiger Woods set a tournament record, which still stands, shooting 270 for the four days (-18). His 12 shot victory is also still the largest amount for a victory.

    Woods' incredible card for the four days: 70, 66, 65, 69.

    His first green jacket and first major. They don't get much more dominant than this.

2. Gary Player 1978

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    The comeback of all comebacks.

    Player entered the final round in 1978 seven shots back. A remarkable 64 put him into the clubhouse early, and it held up. He beat a trio a golfers by a single shot.

    For Player it was his final green jacket and final major title. In all he won three Masters titles and nine major championships.

    This still stands today as one of the all-time great comebacks in major championship history.

    As does the number one spot on the next page... So please, if you don't mind...

1. Jack Nicklaus 1986

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    13 Apr 1986: Jack Nicklaus of the USA celebrates on the final green after victory in the US Masters at Augusta National in Georgia, USA. \ Mandatory Credit: David Cannon /Allsport
    David Cannon/Getty Images

    Not much can be said that hasn't already been said about Jack and the '86 Masters.

    Truly a remarkable performance.  At age 46 Nicklaus captured his sixth and final green jacket, as well his last major (18th).

    Jack came out of nowhere on the weekend to steal the title.  His 30 on the back nine on Sunday was the stuff of legends, and anyone who saw it will never forget it.