It is April and Augusta National so it must be time for the Masters, the first major championship of the season. I already broke down what I feel are the Top-10 Masters moments of all-time leading up to this years edition at Augusta National. I would be remiss if I did not present my Top-5 worst moments in Masters history. Clearly there is no perfect list but when you consider the history the five below are unfortunately the most logical choices for worst moments in Masters history.
For every moment of pure joy and elation is a moment of sadness and despair. It could be a player that expected to play extremely well and missed the cut. It could be a freak injury that forced them to withdraw. It could also be a player that stole defeat from the jaws of victory.
As fans and analysts we tend to remember the indelible moments of pure elation like Larry Mize chipping in to win the 1987 Masters or Tiger Woods chipping in during the 2005 Masters in route to his playoff victory. What we tend to forget are the circumstances that surround the players that were the victims of that chip in or the implosions that might have created an opening for that magical moment to occur.
Let’s take some time and break down what I feel are five of the worse defeats or biggest collapses to ever occur on Sunday at Augusta National. Who will make the list? Let’s find out.
5: Ken Venturi (1956)- Attempting to become the first amateur to win the Masters, Venturi entered the final round with a four shot lead. He actually hit 15 greens in regulation that day but managed to three putt six times in the final round to hobble in with a final round 80. Ironically he only lost the tournament by one stroke.
4: Ben Hogan (1946)- In 1946 Ben Hogan had not yet won his first major championship and he was battling Herman Keiser down the stretch. When Hogan hit his approach into the 18th green he left himself between 12-15 feet for the win. He hit the put and left himself between two and four feet (depending on whose account) to force a playoff. He then missed the comeback putt and lost his chance for his first major. Of course we all know Hogan ended up just fine after the event but it is still hard to imagine Ben Hogan three putting from at most 15 feet to lose a major. Below is a photo of Hogan, Keiser and Bobby Jones at the end of the 1946 Masters. Can you guess what they are referring too?
3: Greg Norman (1987)- 1986 was an unbelievable year for Greg Norman filled with incredible highs and lows. In fact he had the lead in every major heading into Sunday that year. The high note was the win at Turnberry but there was a loss that could have ended any pros career. A holed bunker shot at the PGA cost him the last major of the year. At the Masters a few months later Norman had picked himself up and was again in position to win. In the playoff Norman watched Larry Mize come up 20 yards off the 11th green. Mize however holed the chip costing Norman another major victory by “lucky shot.”
2: Scott Hoch (1989)- He was not a household name with a bunch of tour wins and major championships but Scott Hoch had played himself into contention during the 1989 Masters. Nick Faldo had carded a final round 65 to force a playoff with Hoch. On the first playoff hole Faldo made a horrible bogey that appeared to seal the tournament for Hoch. However, inexplicitly Hoch managed to miss an 18 inch putt to win the Masters. Rattled by the miss Hoch lost the Masters in the next playoff hole.
1: Greg Norman (1996)- During the first round of the 1996 Masters Norman had tied the course record firing a 63. Unlike Hogan it was not one putt but rather a day that Norman probably still has nightmares about. Entering the final round Greg Norman was leading by six strokes then it happened. In the final round he five bogies, and two doubles en route to a final round 78 eventually losing to Sir Nick Faldo.