Sandy Lyle had hopped from foot to foot as he watched his drive disappear into a bunker on the 72nd hole and with it, seemingly, his chance of victory. But after an inspired 7-iron from the depths of this artfully placed obstacle and a 10-foot putt, Lyle became the first man since Arnold Palmer in 1960 to take the Masters with a birdie on the 72nd hole and the first Briton to win the event that Bobby Jones, a great Anglophile, started for his friends.
(Ben) Crenshaw played to the green and wandered over towards Lyle’s bunker. “I wanted to see Sandy play the shot,” says the Texan. “It was in an awful spot but he caught the ball cleanly and it had a beautiful flight. Only someone with enormous strength could have hit a shot like that.”
Crenshaw the golf historian thinks for a moment and then adds: “It was a stupendous shot, one of the greatest I’ve ever seen. I think it ranks with Bobby Jones’s from the waste bunker in the Open at Lytham in 1926. My, what a shot it was!”
With his lone major championship victory, Ian Woosnam became (and remains) the only Welshman to attain Augusta glory. In a later retelling for GGP, John Hopkins’s words delivered a clear image of the outsized impact of the triumph.
Woosnam was tied with Watson on the 72nd tee. He smashed an enormous drive nearly 300 yards over the two bunkers, hit an 8-iron to the fringe and holed a 6-foot putt on the 18th for a par and victory by one stroke ahead of José María Olazábal after Watson made a closing double bogey.
He sank to his knees, delivered an uppercut with his right hand and then was embraced by Philip Morbey, his caddie, in a bear hug of such ferocity that Woosnam nearly popped a rib.
It was a victory for the small man, the underdog. “Wee Woosie” was one of many nicknames that cropped up in newspaper headlines. At his height, he was the underdogs’ underdog, just about the best really small male golfer there has been in the modern era. Precious little about Woosnam, from the length of his legs to the length of his drives, could be described as conventional.
It actually was an event during a subsequent Masters that gave Lewine Mair – writing at the time for The Telegraph – the opportunity to reflect back on Greg Norman’s signature moment of Masters misery. On a Saturday evening in 1999 when he trailed eventual champion José María Olazábal by a stroke, the toll of his green jacket pursuit came clear.
At 7.30 on the Saturday night, guests were arriving for a party hosted by Augusta members. Lights were twinkling in the clubhouse and it was getting darker by the minute when, suddenly, there was the sound of mowers revving up on the practice ground. The reason they were so late in getting started soon became apparent.
Norman, more haggard than handsome on this occasion, had only just finished hitting shots and was returning to base on a buggy. He was staring into the distance and looking for all the world as if he would sooner not have been seen. … It was one more piece of evidence to suggest that there was more urgency about the great Australian rather than less ...
Whatever he may have said to the contrary, he was desperate to be remembered for rather more than losing to a Larry Mize chip-in in 1987 and for his catastrophic collapse in 1996 when he lost a six-shot lead to Nick Faldo and moved the Englishman to share with him in his suffering: “I don’t know what to say. I just want to give you a hug. I feel horrible about what happened. I’m so sorry.”