Golfing greats recount favourite major moments
They’re major moments that stay in the hearts of our champion golfers and we’ve seen so many of these moments over the years, yet they resonate with all the great golfers.
It seems most of them have a memory of a past major when they may have shed a tear or two, excluding, of course, the ones they won themselves.
Adam Scott wins the 2013 Masters (Credit: PGA Tour)
Rory McIlroy, for instance, treasures the memory of Adam Scott winning the Masters in 2013.
“Mainly because it came nine months after one of the most stunning collapses on the back nine in a major,” says the Northern Irishman.
“Scott had a four-shot lead with four holes to play at Royal Lytham & St. Annes when he closed with four straight bogeys, and Ernie Els won his second British Open.
“The next year, Scott holed a 20-foot birdie putt on the final hole at Augusta National, and then won with a birdie on the second playoff hole. I thought that was awesome,” McIlroy said.
Jordan Spieth was just 11, already honing his putter on a closely-mown section of his front yard, when Tiger Woods won the Masters in 2005 for the fourth time.
Spieth considers that his favourite major championship victory that wasn’t his own.
“It goes back to when Tiger holed that chip on 16 and ended up going to a playoff with Chris DiMarco,” says Spieth.
“That Masters win because of that shot…when you’re a kid, you want to go out right away and try some kind of similar shot that you saw someone hit.”
Davis Love III has watched a lot of friends win majors, all special occasions.
One of them meant so much to him that he stayed behind even after missing the cut in the 2011 British Open at Royal St. George’s.
“Darren Clarke winning made me the happiest,” Love said.
Even on opposite sides of the Atlantic, Love and Clarke were close.
Clarke was 42, five years removed from losing his wife to breast cancer. He was no longer among the top 100 in the world and not even eligible for all the majors.
Then he came out and won the Open Championship.
Love also recalled waiting to see Justin Leonard win at Royal Troon in 1997.
“But that was different,” he says. “I don’t think when I watched Justin get the trophy I had tears in my eyes,” Love said.
Curtis Strange reveres Jack Nicklaus’ win in the 1986 Masters, where he finished tied for 21st.
“I was four groups in front of Jack,” he said.
Nicklaus shot 30 on the back nine and won his sixth green jacket at age 46.
“From a players’ standpoint, it was one of the most exciting afternoons you’d ever spend,” said Strange. “Hearing the roars behind him along the back nine was only part of it.”
After closing with a 72, Strange did something he has never done at a major championship he didn’t win…he hung around to watch the finish.
“Ordinarily, you finish on Sunday and you’re in and out of the locker room in five minutes because you want to get the hell out of Dodge,” Strange said. “That locker room was full of every player who played that day. Nobody left. That’s what it meant to everybody.”