April 1991, Masters Tournament, Augusta National
Having recently decided to hang on to his Masters boots for good, it just seems appropriate that we revisit Ian Woosnam’s best time, which of course came with Welshman’s stunning victory at the 1991 US Masters.
Usi reached the very top of his game in August of that year, where only defending champion Nick Faldo was ahead of him in the world rankings. With five top-10 finishes already on the Masters in his CV, the ‘Welsh Wizard’ certainly wasn’t without a shout out, although he probably wasn’t on the betting slip of many people outside his hometown of Oswestry.
At five speeds after settling, if extraordinary, the opening 72, Woosnam responded with a six-under-par 66 on the second day that got him within two strokes of the halfway leader, and home favorite Tom Watson, who fired back. Back to the 68s.
Woosnam carried that good form on Saturday, firing five-under-par 67 shots that were good enough to give him a complete lead in 11 under, one ahead of Watson and three times ahead of Ryder Cup teammate Jose-Maria Olajabal.
On the final day, Welshman increased his advantage to three, but another bogey in the 10th bogey and 13th par-five, which birdied Olazabal and Watson Eagle-Three, drove home fans off their seats. Its advantages are all but invisible.
Olajabal made 14 birdies to draw the level, and both birdied the next one when Watson rolled another eagle into the 15s to make it a three-way tie for the lead and set up a vibrating finish.
In the 18th game, the playoffs looked certain, with the top trio still tied at the top, but Olajabal became a bogey and Watson fought to save Sam, who missed the green left and pitched six feet. Watson, winner of the Green Jacket in 1981, failed to defend the equalizer and was left with an intricate six-footer for a chance to immortalize Golf. He held his nerves to stroke the curling put for the winning equivalent and as soon as the ball hit the cup he came down and pumped his fist before Cady Phil ‘Obli’ Morbe removed it from his leg, creating another iconic masters image.
Recalling the final hole a few years later, Woosnam said: “Okay, I’m not a big fader of the ball, so I tried to hit the T directly, but the wind was from the right. I was pretty excited, so I felt like I could carry the left hand bunker, and I knew there would be no problem. I knew Jose Maria [Olazabal] Took a boogie – I saw him hit a tree – so I was basically playing in a safe area to try.
I hit my second shot from the green edge. If it had been earlier in the week, I would have chipped it off, but I looked at the grain and I thought ‘No, there are all these people around, this is not the right time to do a stub’, so I pulled out the potter. I thought it would go a little to the left, but it jumped over the grass and went six feet past. But you know it’s your time when you’ve got a putt and you can see the line directly. It was a ball outside the right, could not have been easier put. I said to myself, ‘This is your chance’ and put it down. Fortunately, it’s gone. You dreamed of making a hole in the last hole of winning the Masters and my dream has come true. ”
Woosnam’s Masters win was his only major win. He came close several times, finishing a shot behind Curtis Strange at the US Open in 1989, and most notably, finishing third at The Open in 2001, where he was awarded two shots in the first hole of the final round. Lots of clubs in his bag. He finished four shots behind the final winner, David Duval, but fired shots on the third and fourth holes, no doubt doing so for him in the end due to his previous push.
Still, 29 European touring titles, two European money list titles, 50 weeks as World No. 1, entered the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2017 and 52 career wins, including one OBE, making it quite a read for a man. Who stood at only 5 feet 41/2 Inches in its spikes.