With so many of the top players showing fine form, this year’s Masters promises to be a close one. Could we see another playoff? Here are five of the most exciting ever.
The five most exciting Masters playoffs
5. 1954 – Sam Snead beats Ben Hogan
The pair tied on one-over par for 72 holes after Hogan had struggled to a final round of 75. At that time, the playoff was contested over 18 holes so Ben Hogan and Sam Snead returned the following day to battle it out. Between them, they had won four of the previous five Masters and Hogan was defending champion. It was to be a showdown between the two most famous golfers in the world at that time.
“The Hawk” had lost a playoff to Byron Nelson for the 1942 Masters and was determined not to let it happen again.
He and Snead were tied through nine holes of the playoff but Snead took the lead with a chip-in birdie on the 10th. He gave his one shot advantage back with a bogey on the 12th but he then took control on the par-5 13th. Hogan played cautiously and laid up with his second then Snead went for it, finding the green and two putting for a simple birdie, Hogan couldn’t get up-and-down and Snead edged ahead.
On the 16th, Hogan had a chance to square it after hitting a great tee shot and facing a short birdie putt. He missed it and then missed the one back to allow Snead a two-shot cushion. Snead played the final hole carefully and made a bogey to win by one. In a great match, Snead had scored 70 to Hogan’s 71.
4. 1989 – Nick Faldo beats Scott Hoch
The final round was a thriller with Nick Faldo blasting through the field with a fabulous 65. He’d struggled to a 77 in round three and looked to be out of the running. But he changed putter for Sunday and it worked a treat; he made eight birdies and posted a five-under-par total that no-one could better. Only Scott Hoch could match him and the pair headed to the 10th tee to decide the tournament by sudden-death playoff.
Faldo’s approach found sand and Hoch played a good second to leave 25-feet for birdie. Faldo blasted out and faced about 12 feet for his par. Hoch’s birdie try missed and when Faldo failed to knock his par putt home, the American had a two-foot putt to win the Masters. Incredibly he missed it and Faldo’s hopes were still alive.
Hole more short putts:
On the difficult 11th, Faldo rolled home a 25-foot putt for birdie and victory. It was the first of his three Masters wins.
3. 1979 – Fuzzy Zoeller beats Ed Sneed and Tom Watson
This was the first sudden-death playoff at The Masters and it was won by first time participant Fuzzy Zoeller. He remains one of only three men to win the tournament on their debut – Horton Smith won the first event in 1934 and Gene Sarazen won in 1935, having not played the year before.
Ed Sneed should have won the tournament in regulation play but he bogeyed the last three holes to fall back into a tie with Zoeller and Tom Watson.
On the first extra hole, the 10th, all three men had birdie putts. All three missed and they moved on to the 11th. Sneed found sand with his second and blasted out for three, Watson missed a putt for a three then Zoeller, showing nerves of steel, rolled his birdie putt home from six feet.