Masters Memories, Past And Present
By Matt Hombach
The winner of the 2012 Masters is a 33-year-old golfer from Bagdad, Fla., who has never had a golf lesson in his life, tees off using a pink driver and was dressed in white from head to toe for all four days of the tournament. His prized possession (before he won the green jacket) was one of the original Dodge Charger General Lee cars used in the filming of the "Dukes of Hazzard." Although Bubba Watson isn't your prototypical pro golfer, he is a new fan favorite, and has undoubtedly added some memorable moments to the lore of the Masters.
Golf fans have their own Masters memories that stand out for them. PressBox asked some local PGA professionals and a media member, are avid golfers, to share their favorite Masters moments.
Pete Gilbert -- Sports Anchor, WBAL TV
"I really fell in love with golf and the Masters in 1986, when Jack [Nicklaus] won. It was the first time I stuck with and watched a whole golf tournament on TV. I've been a big fan of the game ever since. There is just something special about the course and the tournament.
"One of my favorite Masters moments has to be the chip shot Tiger Woods holed on No. 16 in the final round of the 2005 Masters. Ironically, I never saw it happen live. I had just got done with my 6 p.m. sports report and was driving home quick to get a bit to eat. My wife called me while I was driving and said, 'You won't believe what just happened!' When I got home, I had to wait for them to show a replay. His chip was just one of those incredible shots that don't happen anywhere else but Augusta."
Tim Butler -- PGA, head golf professional at The Woodlands/Diamond Ridge
"I have always been a Greg Norman fan, so the years he came close to winning, but got beaten by Nicklaus and [Nick] Faldo, really stand out for me. Tiger Woods winning his first major and first Masters by 12 shots in 1997 also stands out for me. That was just amazing.
"I always look forward to the back nine on Sunday. There's no question that's my favorite thing about the Masters. Just look at all the things that happened this year on the back nine and last year with Rory [McIlroy] losing the lead. You just never know.
"Unfortunately, I have yet to actually go to the Masters tournament. I've driven past the front gate a few times when I've been in Augusta to play golf at another incredible course, Sage Valley, that is located near Augusta National."
Julieta Stack -- LPGA, director of instruction, Baltimore Municipal Golf Corporation
"My favorite Masters is the first one I ever went to in person, in 2004. As an LPGA Professional, our membership cards grant us free admission to the Masters. I spent the night in Pinehurst the day before and played some golf before heading to Augusta for the Wednesday practice round.
"Walking the grounds at Augusta National was just amazing. The beauty of the place is beyond words. I toured the course and tracked down Arnold Palmer. I wanted to see him play, since it was his last Masters.
"I caught up with him on No. 6, the downhill par-3. He pulled his tee shot left and ended up in some trees. He proceeded to make this brilliant little chip shot out of the woods and drained the putt for just an incredible up and down. The fans just went crazy. It was inspiring to see someone his age have that attitude and not give up on the hole.
"I also got to see [Phil] Mickelson that year and was really impressed by him. I was never a big supporter of Phil before that day, but when he came through during his practice round, he really did make an effort to connect with fans, high fiving people and signing autographs. I became a fan of Phil that day. As a golf professional, we know how important the pros are to our lives. It was great to see Phil connecting with fans and inspiring interest in the game.
"I will say I wasn't too impressed with the famous pimento cheese sandwiches at the Masters. I really was anxious to try one, but I tried one bite and couldn't get it down!"
Mike Welsh -- PGA, head golf professional at Towson Golf and Country Club
"My favorite Masters of all time was 1986, when Jack Nicklaus won the tournament at the age of 46. I'll never forget the great putt he made on No. 17 with his Maxfli Response putter. What a story that was to have someone his age take home a green jacket.
"In terms of memorable shots, Mickelson has one of the great ones, with his second shot on No. 13 a few years ago. He knocked an incredible approach shot on the green after threading it through two trees and slipping on some pine needles. Also, Larry Mize's chip in on No. 11 to beat Greg Norman in a playoff in 1987 was another great shot that sticks out.
"For my money, it is the best golf tournament in the world. It is a great time of year with golf season getting under way in this area and everyone is excited about golf. It is tough for club pros like me to make it down to the tournament, because that is a busy time period for us, but sometime soon I hope to make it to the Masters."
Issue 172: April 2012