As of Monday, March 14, The Masters, the first Major of the 2016 golf season, is 25 days away. To celebrate the coming of arguably the most gorgeously visual event in all of sports, here’s a countdown to Augusta featuring a champion a day.
Twenty-five years ago, Ian Woosnam became the only Welsh man to win the green jacket, winning a breathtaking victory over Jose Maria Olazabal and two-time champ Bob Watson.
Early on, the atmosphere at Augusta positively crackled because of one name: Jack Nickalus. Five years after winning his 18th Major at age 46 here, Nicklaus, now 51, exploded out of the gate with a 4-under 68 to sit one stroke off the lead. A stroke behind him was a 20-year-old amateur from Arizona State named Phil Mickelson at 3-under.
Watson was 8-under through two rounds with thoughts of assailing Nicklaus’ course record, while Woosnam shot a second-day 66 to sit with three others within two strokes. The Welshman followed it up with a 67 to take the lead after 54 holes at 11-under, with Watson a stroke back and Olazabal and Lanny Wadkins tied for third at 8-under in a deep field.
Through the first five holes on Sunday, Woosnam had a 2-stroke lead on Olazabal and three on Watson, who seemed to play himself out of the tournament when he double-bogeyed No. 12 to fall to 7-under, four strokes behind Woosnam.
But Watson wasn’t a two-time champ for nothing. He eagled No. 13 while Woosnam bogeyed it, and suddenly just one stroke separated the three men – Woosnam at 10-under, the other two at 9-under. Olazabal birdied No. 14 to tie for the lead, and a remarkable three-way tie was forged at No. 15 as Woosnam and Olzabal both stroked birdies only to be upstaged by Watson and his second eagle in three holes.
The trio remained tied at 11-under through 17, but Olazabal was a group ahead, and found the fairway bunker on 18, missing a 45-foot putt and settling for a bogey. Watson, by then with the throngs of fans solidly at his back, missed the fairway off the tee and landed in the greenside bunker on his second shot. A stunned crowd saw him chip out, then three-putt for a double bogey. Woosnam, suddenly master of his own destiny, parred from 5-feet out to give the UK its fourth straight Masters champion.