Wood's magical Masters moment

Tiger tips the balance with chip-in at six

Bob Warters's picture
Mon, 15 Apr 2002

Every Masters has a moment – a snap shot frozen in time which sums up the tournament, as they say, in a heartbeat.

Nick Faldo’s ‘Jeez’ looking up to darkening skies as he rolled in a 35-footer across the 11th green to win a playoff in 1989, Sandy Lyle’s war dance in 1988, Jack Nicklaus walking in his putt at 17 to set up his last win in 1986.

The fire in Ian Woosnam’s eyes as he smashed his final drive over the bunkers, the tears of Ben Crenshaw, the joy of Larry Mize, the fist pump of Tiger Woods in 1997 and 2000 all contribute to a visual montage of Masters moments.

But it’s the image of a clubhead that will live in my memory bank for future years when I recall the 2002 US Masters.

A shiny sharp-edged wedge brushing through the grass in an explosion of tiny clippings. The Nike golf ball propelled forward from the fringe of the 6th green, two bounces, a check of spin, ricochet with the flagstick and in.

That was the moment Tiger Woods won his third Masters and successful defence of the event they tried to change to combat his domination under a veil of claims that they were taking on the advances in technology.

In the end, they played into Tiger’s hands.

Sharing the lead at 11-under par after three rain-interrupted rounds with Retief Goosen, Woods took initial command with birdies at the second and third to move three clear of the South African and Vijay Singh before three-putting the fifth to give his challengers a glimmer of opportunity.

But their hopes were short-lived. At the par-3 sixth with the hole cut on a ledge at the back, he delivered a 7-iron soaring to the back fringe.

Woods told his caddie Steve Williams it was about time he chipped in – and promptly did so from 20 feet.

The roar that erupted, not only around the green but echoeing through the pines on this millionaire real estate would have lifted the roof off Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium.

Goosen saw it happen and tried to keep calm, the rest – including Singh, Ernie Els and Phil Mickelson - heard it and it sent a shudder through their bones.

Now they had to attack if they were to make an impression. To force the pace they had to take risks – mistakes were inevitable.

Goosen made a rickets of eight, Singh three-putted the same hole, found water at 13 and finally crumbled with a nine at 15, Els tried to crash his way through undergrowth at 13 and took eight tearful shots and Mickelson was too often saving par to ever threaten.

Europe’s hopes rested on the broad shoulders of Jose Maria Olazabal (71), Padraig Harrington (71) and Sergio Garcia (75) but none got nearer than five strokes to the lead.

Woods finally put them all out of their misery at 15 where he played conservatively to the bottom of the hill, then held his follow through with his wedge, in inimitable fashion, to leave an 18-inch tap in for birdie.

Though he bogeyed 17 to let Goosen within three of his lead he was always in control from that defining moment behind the sixth green.

What was the moment you will remember from the Masters 2002. Tell us on the Forum.



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