How often have you had that dream about holing a putt to win a major?

Dan Walker: Holing A Putt To Win The Masters

At Tilgate Park, a municipal course in Crawley, West Sussex, my friends and I used to jump on after school.

The 17th green is particularly unforgiving with a decidedly slippery downhill left to right putt if the hole is cut at the front.

I always used to imagine I had a nasty 12 footer to win the green jacket. I never holed it.

I have always wondered what it must be like be in a position where it all comes down to 1 shot.

I remember talking to Danny Willett about the walk from the 15th green to the 16th tee at Augusta in 2016.

Masters water disasters amen corner

It all went from for Spieth on Augusta’s famous par-3 12th hole

Jordan Spieth had just done terrible things at the 12th and Willett was 3 holes away from golfing super-stardom.

He wrote about this in his excellent blog for the European Tour recently – about how he could hardly turn the pages of his yardage book because his hands were shaking so much.

Jonathan Smart, his caddie at the time, handed him an 8-iron and the rest is history.

I’ll never be in that position but I’m pretty sure if you gave me an 8 footer for a major I’d push it about 4 feet right.

Danny Willett Masters champion

Danny Willett made history at Augusta last year

I did have an opportunity to (sort of) test that theory at the British Masters at Close House in September.

I was invited to take part in the Hero Challenge which was broadcast live on Sky Sports on the Tuesday night before the event.

The good people of the North East turned up in their thousands to watch 8 top golfers fire at a shortened 18th hole.

The host Lee Westwood was joined by Sergio Garcia, Danny Willett, Matt Fitzpatrick, Ross Fisher, Bernd Wiesberger, Martin Kaymer and Miguel Ángel Jiménez.

Lee Westwood was the eventual winner

There were also 4 golfing goons there so demonstrate how it shouldn’t be done: I was one of the chosen four alongside Stuart Broad, Robbie Fowler and, the home favourite, Gaz Beadle from Geordie Shore.

When I first arrived presenters Vernon Kay and Kirsty Gallacher were running through a technical check and they asked if I fancied having a shot.

I’ll be honest with you… 125 yards is normally a three-quarter wedge but I thought an easy, lazy 9 iron might do the trick.

With a grand total of about 4 people watching I struck it perfectly.

It went straight at the flag and landed about 10 feet behind it.

Dan plays off 5

Vernon gave me a big hug and I thought no need to hit another one until it matters and shuffled off to the hospitality tent.

The next time I walked to the tee it was a little different.

There were about three-and-a-half thousand punters packed into the grand stand, an army of young girls were screaming Gaz’s name and there was dry ice, fireworks and a tannoy system so loud it could blow your face off.

Did I mention the floodlights?

As we stared down the 125 yards to the grandstand all you could see was the sparking green – a green that looked about 50 times smaller than it had 2 hours ago.

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“I’d rather be at the Gabba” whispered Stuart Broad as we discussed the fact that we didn’t expect to be feeling this nervous.

We weren’t even on telly at this point, this was the pre-event warm up.

It was our job to loosen up the crowd.

It sounds stupid but as we walked through the pyrotechnics towards the little square of astro turf I was thankful that I had parked the 9-iron and opted for an adrenaline-fuelled wedge.

All 4 of us somehow found the dance floor and I was left with a daunting 25 foot putt watched by 3,500 pairs of eyes.

The Hero Challenge. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

My mind drifted back to the 17th at Tilgate Park and, as I lined it up, I thought… ‘imagine if you HAD to make it’.

I cosied up behind the ball, fidgeting far more than I normally would, and was imagining this was a putt to seal the Ryder Cup, win the Claret Jug and get one of those funky jackets.

My hands were a little clammy as I drew the blade back and sent the little fella on his way.

Sadly no-one shouted “mashed potato” but Robbie Fowler said “it¹s got a chance lad” at the half-way stage.

I was frozen watching it roll towards the hole willing it to drop.

As it tracked, the noise from the crowd steadily built and when it rattled into the cup…they went wild!

Lee Westood salutes the fans. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

I am fully aware it was utterly meaningless but it felt amazing.

Sadly I completely lost my head and ran around the green like an idiot high-fiving everyone in sight.

If that wasn’t enough as I walked off the green some fella called Sergio Garcia said “Dan, what a birdie” and offered a fist.

When it came to the actual televised event it was only a nearest the pin competition for us mortals to save time and embarrassment.

After the birdie in rehearsal the nerves had disappeared but my left knee collapsed and I pushed my wedge about 20 feet right – still on the green and seemingly inside Robbie Fowler’s effort.

Sky’s Richard Boxall somehow decided that the former striker was the winner much to the disgust of my new best mate.

“You were robbed Dan” said a smiling Spaniard as the Masters champion made his way to the tee.

I may have missed out on the bottle of champagne but I had holed a putt which mattered.

That’s as close as I’ll ever get to sitting in a wicker chair next to Jim Nantz in the Butler Cabin.

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