The 10 Greatest Masters Shots

A countdown of the 10 greatest shots in Masters history

greatest masters shots
(Image credit: Getty Images)

It’s subjective of course but, after an extended debate, here we lay out what we believe to be the 10 greatest Masters shots. Have a look and see if you agree.

10 - Jack Nicklaus putt on the 16th, final round 1975

A roar from the 15th green told Jack Nicklaus that Tom Weiskopf had moved one clear in the final round in 1975. The Golden Bear wasn’t fazed. He settled over a sloping 40-foot putt and sank it, instigating even louder cheering than Weiskopf had just soaked up. Weiskopf was broken and he three putted form a similar spot on the 16th. Nicklaus went on to win by one.

9 - Arnold Palmer chip-in on the 16th, final round 1962

The 10 Greatest Masters Shots

Arnold Palmer

Arnold Palmer looked destined to narrowly miss out on Masters victory for a second straight year – two behind and facing an extremely difficult chip down the hill on the 16th. But he played a sublime pitch, landing it softly on the putting surface and allowing it to trickle down the slope and into the cup. He birdied the 17th and tied Gary Player and Dow Finsterwald through 72 holes. Palmer went on to win in a playoff.

8 - Louis Oosthuizen albatross two at the 2nd, final round 2012

Although the South African went on to lose in a playoff with Bubba Watson, he left his mark on the 2012 Masters with an incredible shot on the par-5 2nd. After a well-positioned drive, he hit a controlled 4-iron to the green’s front edge and let the contours do the rest. “Hop up, hop up, this is going to be very good… it could be better than that… an albatross is calling!” It was only the fourth albatross in Masters history.

7 - Charl Schwartzel hole-out on the 3rd, final round 2011

Charl Schwartzel began the final round four shots behind Rory McIlroy but he was level with the Northern Irishman after just three holes. The South African chipped in on the 1st and then played a perfect approach to the 3rd that went into the hole for an eagle two. A sand wedge from 108 yards, it spun back and left into the cup. Schwartzel went on to birdie the last four holes to win by two shots.

6 - Larry Mize chip-in on 11th to win the playoff in 1987

When Larry Mize bailed out of his approach to the 11th in the play-off, the only upside was that it beat finding the water left. What happened next remains one of golf’s most memorable moments. His deft chip bounced twice in the fringe before making an unstoppable beeline for the cup. “Words do not do justice to the greatness of that shot,” exclaimed the commentator. Greg Norman remained understandably expressionless, the victim of another improbable Major theft.

5 - Sandy Lyle 7-iron to 18th, final round 1988

Standing on the 18th tee, Lyle needed a par to force a playoff with Mark Calcavecchia. His drive found the left hand bunker, leaving a hugely difficult shot. He struck an awesome 7-iron from the sand that cleared the high lip in front of him, it landed 30 feet by the pin and rolled back to about 10. He holed the birdie putt to win by a shot and become the first British Masters champion.

4 - Phil Mickelson from the pine straw 13th hole, final round 2010

Struggling with his driver throughout the round, Phil Mickelson had managed to draw level on the front nine with overnight leader Lee Westwood – mainly due to the Englishman’s one-over-par 37. A birdie on the 12th had given the American the lead for the first time, but a loose drive on the 13th meant he was in trouble, in the pine straw to the right of the fairway behind two trees.

Here was Westwood’s chance to not only draw level, but possibly even retake the lead. But Mickelson played a remarkable 6-iron from 207 yards, between the trees, landing just over Rae’s Creek in front of the green and rolling up to just four feet from the hole. He did miss the resulting eagle chance and Westwood also birdied the hole, but it was a body blow from which the Englishman never recovered, and Mickelson went on to win by three. Seldom has a shot been so well timed to grab momentum from an opponent, and in such spectacular fashion.

3 - Bubba Watson on the 10th hole 2012

Bubba Watson had played a superb back nine in the final round of the 2012 Masters to force a playoff against Louis Oosthuizen. The South African had, himself, played one of the greatest shots in Masters history earlier in the round, holing his second to the par-5 2nd for an albatross two.

Watson and Oosthuizen halved the first extra hole in pars; then moved on to the difficult 10th. Both men lost their drives right, but Watson seemed in more trouble, deep in the woods. After Oosthuizen played up short of the green, Watson produced a miracle stroke. He hooked a wedge shot from out of the trees, bending the ball almost 90 degrees to find the green and set up victory.

2 - Gene Sarazen 4-wood to 15th, final round 1935

The 10 Greatest Masters Shots

Gene Sarazen (Getty Images)

Three behind Craig Wood with four to play in the second Masters Tournament, Sarazen was up against it. But he erased the entire deficit with a single stroke, holing his second shot to the par-5 15th – “the shot heard ‘round the world.” Sarazen went on to finish tied with Wood and beat him in the Monday playoff.

“I rode into the shot with every ounce of strength and timing I could muster,” he later wrote.

1 - Tiger Woods on the 16th, 2005

At number 1 in our list of the 10 greatest Masters shots, it has to be Tiger’s chip-in at the 2005 tournament. One ahead of Chris DiMarco, Tiger fired his tee shot through the green at the par-3 into a seemingly impossible position – the ball resting against the second cut of grass with an extraordinary slope between it and the cup.

Tiger took his time then struck his chip onto the top section of the green, it checked up perfectly then began to tumble slowly down the slope. It took an age to roll down to the cup, then it stopped right on the lip – a perfect moment for his sponsors – before gravity won the battle and it dropped into the hole for an incredible two.

Fergus Bisset
Contributing Editor

Fergus is Golf Monthly's resident expert on the history of the game and has written extensively on that subject. He is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and the history section of "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin , also of Golf Monthly. 

Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?