Woods wins fourth green jacket in Masters playoff
BY Bruce Young | US PGA Tour | 2005 US Masters | Wrap | 11 Apr 2005
The Masters deserves more than just a one horse race and today, despite the fact that it looked as if it may develop into just that at one stage, we witnessed yet another great Sunday at Augusta National Golf Club.
The final day produced two of the more amazing turnarounds in the recent history of the event, both involving the two key protagonists over the closing holes namely Tiger Woods and Chris DiMarco.
When the pair arrived at the 10th hole this morning to complete round three, DiMarco enjoyed – if that is the way to describe such a situation – a four shot lead over Woods, but almost immediately that lead was under threat. Woods was straight out of the blocks in his early morning start today. Birdies at the 10th and 11th and he was all of a sudden sharing the lead with DiMarco who double bogeyed his first hole to be level with the man who he would chase from that point on. When Woods birdied the 12th and 13th he had recorded four consecutive birdies that morning but seven consecutive birdies in the delayed round and he was ahead by two. DiMarco added salt to what was an opening wound with three bogeys in the last five holes to finish with a 74 and at eight under for the tournament he trailed Woods by three.
In the space of two hours his overnight lead of four had turned into a three shot deficit and it seemed highly improbable that his back nine of 41 to complete round three would not impact on what was to come. The momentum of Woods would also slow, with two quick bogeys to follow his run of seven birdies but the damage to DiMarco and the field, it would seem, had been done earlier.
The two would play together in round four but with Woods amazing record when leading into the final round of a major and the fact that DiMarco had almost self destructed over the closing nine in the morning, surely this would be a walk in the park for Woods. Enter a rejuvenated and determined DiMarco not about to let this great opportunity slip further. He had played with the winner last year and had been close enough to contention in recent years to know how sweet a victory here could be. He wasn’t about to let himself or us down.
DiMarco’s start to round four was solid but when he turned in 34 he could well have been excused for looking back at the previous two hours thinking what might have been. He had missed at least three makeable putts on the way to the turn and had righted a rather shaky ship and put the negative thoughts of earlier in the day far behind. He was, at that point, still three back of Woods but when the leader bogeyed the 10th a window opened. DiMarco’s second to the 11th was a safe smart shot some 35 feet short and right of the flag. It became even smarter when he holed that for birdie to close within one. The game was now well and truly on.
DiMarco was first to hit at the par three 12th and pulled his tee shot left of the green and a long way from the hole. He played a nice pitch to ten feet but when he missed that and Woods made solid par, the difference was back to two.
The par five 13th would prove interesting. DiMarco had to have his driver replaced at the par five 8th after some binding came unravelled and it appeared that he was a little uncomfortable with the replacement. Not keen it would seem to try and turn over a driver on that hole – the shot that was required – he chose a three wood and had no option other than to lay up with his second. When he pitched from 100 yards or so to within 12 feet he still had a chance at birdie and with Woods missing the green left with his second from the pine needles right, he looked as if he might make up a shot rather than lose one. Both players missed makeable birdie putts – Woods from longer range and as they walked to the 14th tee it was still Woods two ahead.
At the 14th both hit good tee shots although Dimarco would play first. He hit his approach to a foot from the hole and when Tiger could not make his 22 footer for birdie, the difference was one. At the 15th it was logical to think Woods length would give him the advantage and so it would be, at least from the tee. Woods’ second, with what appeared to be a seven iron, flew right over the top of the flag and came to rest behind the hole. DiMarco was again forced to lay up when he might well have been tempted to have a go, but in the end it was of no relevance as he pitched to five feet and holed it for the birdie to match that of Tiger’s. Just as DiMarco was about to hit his third there he was distracted by the commotion that erupted when Trevor Immelman, in the group ahead, holed his tee shot at the 16th. That he was able to put that out of his mind as the noise faded was testament to a man with his mind fully on the job.
At the 16th DiMarco was first to hit and a seven iron came to rest twenty feet short but with a very makeable putt. Woods’ eight iron was pulled perhaps twenty feet left of the intended line and was also long. He was now faced with the most improbable pitch to somehow save par and with DiMarco looking at a possible birdie, the lead may well have changed right there and then. Woods shot was up against the collar of second cut rough and he had a shot that was downhill to the flag and with a huge left to right ridge in the green. He needed to almost bring the ball to a halt and then let it trickle down to the hole. The margin for error here was virtually nil but that is the sort of challenge that Woods thrives on and so often executes to perfection and this would be no exception. The ball came to an almost standstill at the top of the ridge and then turned to the right and headed downhill towards the hole. It came to a halt again at the hole but the sheer wait of gravity and perhaps Wood’s expectation saw it fall into the hole and he had made birdie. Now DiMarco’s putt was not to go ahead, but to retain the status quo and when he missed the difference was two and surely now it was all over.
At the 17th Woods blocked his tee shot a long way right and was behind the trees which have established themselves there in recent years. When Steve Williams returned to the bag after walking all the way to the green it appeared he told Tiger he had 126 yards to the front but also told him he should play the shot as if it were a 115 yard shot. He did exactly that but was still faced with difficult pitch and was unable to save par. DiMarco, perhaps sensing that this was his moment, ran his birdie attempt from 30 feet some eight feet past and he was forced to make that to gain one shot and move within one.
The 18th saw DiMarco put his tee shot in the fairway but perhaps ten yards behind Tiger. His second from 179 yards with a five iron caught the top of the ridge at the front right of the green and fed back down off the front. Tiger, with what appeared to be just an 8 iron in his hands from the left first cut of rough, was distracted by a siren and backed off. As he stood over the ball again the siren again sounded but this time Tiger continued and pushed his second into the right hand greenside bunker. He was first to go and hit a very good bunker shot to 12 feet. DiMarco all but holed his pitch but it ran seven feet by and when Tiger missed his putt to win outright, DiMarco still had one last chance. He made it and so it was headed back to the 18th tee. This would be the first time in the history of sudden death playoff that the 18th would be used to decide a winner.
Both players drove it beautifully, DiMarco along the right side of the fairway and Woods in the middle. With a 6 iron this time, DiMarco again came up just a few feet short and it again fed back down to almost the identical position as that at the 72nd hole. When his attempt to hole that missed, Woods had his chance to close it out from 15 feet or so behind the hole after his seven iron flew right over the flag. Woods studied the putt almost to distraction but when he stood over it there was an uncanny feeling that he would hole it and he did. For the fourth time the green jacket was his.
There were many shots throughout the four long days that made a difference in the outcome of the event but perhaps none more so than the Houdini like effort at the 16th. It will become Masters folklore no question and like the putt that Nicklaus made at that same hole in 1975 or the putt he made at the 17th in 1986 – will become one of the most replayed shots in years to come and deservedly so.
Woods is now back at number one in the world and the golfing world seems the better for him being there. He has always held the mantle of the number one player in the game with dignity and humility and with no disrespect to others, his profile seems to do justice to that position.
The leading pair had spreadeagled the field to the extent that there was a seven shot gap back to the third placed pair of Retief Goosen and Luke Donald, who in any other year may well have been in line for the title. Donald showed why he is headed for the elite of the game with such a great performance in his first visit to the Masters. He has such an impeccable swing that he seems destined for many even better results in years to come. Goosen’s last round of 67 was the best of the day, although many were threatening good scores until Augusta National’s closing holes brought them undone. He moved from 16th to third.
Next came Mike Weir, Vijay Singh, and three of the tournament’s surprise packages in Trevor Immelman, Rod Pampling and Mark Hensby. Both Hensby and Pampling were on debut at August and their efforts were stunning. Hensby was playing in only his second major championship but he handled himself as if it was twenty second. He had the services of Mike Carrick, long time caddy for Tom Kite and others, and his knowledge no doubt helped but it is Hensby’s ability and self belief in that ability that goes a long way towards his success. He backed himself when moving to America as an amateur to play and continues to back himself at now the highest level of the game.
Pampling slipped late in round three but his final round of 70 again highlighted a late maturing golfer who will benefit greatly by the confidence and satisfaction such a brilliant effort on debut will give him.
Trevor Immelman first played here in 1999 as an amateur having won the US Public Links the previous year. His back nine showed just what a roller coaster the last nine on Sunday at Augusta can be when he double bogeyed the 13th then holed in one at the 16th. Immelman’s previous best finish in seven majors was 37th so to share 5th here was a giant step for the talented South African.
Singh was again solid, Mickelson’s two double bogeys on the way in cost him any chance of a high finish and Els was suffering from illness for most of the week.
The other Australians to finish were Craig Parry in 25th place after a poor finish to his third round today and shaky run through the first 14 holes of his final round. Three birdies in his last four holes however saw him record his equal second best finish here in his 9th attempt.
Adam Scott was very disappointing after such a good start to the week on a golf course that should have suited him. Despite the hype surrounding him, he has still to prove himself at this highest level of the game. He will but I’m not sure when.
Stuart Appleby fell away on the back nine today with a quintuple and double bogey and while he contended at times this week he has once again disappointed at Augusta given his place in world golf.
Nick O’Hern did well in his first time here toi make the cut and started well but fell away at the weekend. He will be the better for it.