Numbers show why 1986 is so special

Friday, April 01, 2011
By John Boyette
Sports Editor

Plenty of famous charges have occurred at the Masters. Just not many in the past 25 years.

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Jack Nicklaus finished the third round in 1986 with 69, which put him in contention to win.

(HERB WELCH/file)

Byron Nelson put up the first memorable charge in 1937 when he made up six strokes on Ralph Guldahl in the final round.

Nelson made birdie at the 12th and eagle at the 13th, while Guldahl played the same holes in 3-over.

The first Masters telecast was in 1956, and drama and Augusta National's second nine seemed to be a perfect match. That was the year Jack Burke Jr. made up eight strokes on amateur Ken Venturi in windy conditions.

In 1957, Doug Ford shot a final-round 66 that included 32 on the second nine. He holed out from the bunker for a birdie on the final hole to punctuate his three-shot win over Sam Snead.

Arnold Palmer got the best of Venturi in 1958, but not without some controversy at the 12th hole. A ruling over a drop at that hole went Palmer's way. When he scored an eagle on the 13th, the action inspired Herbert Warren Wind to use the phrase Amen Corner to describe the action that day.

In 1959, Art Wall Jr. made birdies on five of the last six holes to secure his only major championship. A year later, Palmer grabbed his second green coat by making birdies on the final two holes to break Venturi's heart again.

Jack Nicklaus II caddied for his father. It was the first time the golfer won without Willie Peterson.

(JUDY ONDREY/file)

Perhaps the most memorable shootout involving multiple players came in 1975, when Jack Nicklaus held off Tom Weiskopf and Johnny Miller. The defining moment of that tournament was Nicklaus' 40-foot birdie putt on the 16th.

Three years later, Gary Player was trailing by seven entering the final round. But a round of 64, including 30 on the final nine, allowed Player to pass nine players and earn his third and final green jacket.

In 1986, Nicklaus entered the final round four shots behind Greg Norman. After a birdie at the ninth, he still trailed by four.

Then Nicklaus put together a memorable charge with an eagle, five birdies and one bogey to shoot 30 and complete a round of 65. At age 46, he was a champion again.

IN GOOD COMPANY

Gary Player is the only other Masters Tournament champion to post scores like Nicklaus' in 1986. Player won in 1978 with a final-round score of 64. Like Nicklaus, Player had 30 on the final nine. The only other champion to approach that number is Phil Mickelson, who had 31 on the final nine when he won in 2004.

IN THE FINAL PAIRING

Securing a place in Sunday's final pairing has been a good omen over the past 25 years.

The winner has come out of that pairing all but five times, including 19 of the past 20. Fourteen of the past 25 winners have either held the lead or were tied for the lead going into the final round.

Zach Johnson is the only man to start outside the final twosome and win since 1990. He shot 69 in cold and windy conditions in 2007 to claim his first major title.

Nick Faldo won his first two green jackets (1989 and 1990) after starting out of the final pairing. For his third win, in 1996, he was in the final pair with Greg Norman. Faldo made up six strokes when he shot 67; Norman collapsed with 78.

NO. 12

How a player handles the pressure of Amen Corner - specifically the par-3 12th - is a good barometer for Masters winners.

Sandy Lyle is the last player to hit his tee shot into Rae's Creek on the 12th in the final round and win.

Jack Nicklaus in 1986, Tiger Woods in 2001 and Trevor Immelman in 2008 survived final-round bogeys on the hole during their victories.

Lyle came into the final nine holes in 1988 with a two-shot lead.

"It's not the most comfortable feeling in the world," he said. "I wanted to get through Amen Corner without too much calamity."

He 3-putted the 11th for bogey. Then, his tee shot came up short at the 12th, and he made double bogey.

"I needed another two feet in the air and it would have been perfect," Lyle said. "As it was, I said at least I've got two par-5s coming up. There's still some room to gather speed and stay in touch with the leader at the time."

Lyle didn't make up ground on the par-5s, but he did birdie the 16th and 18th holes for a one-shot win over Mark Calcavecchia.

EAGLE HAS(N'T) LANDED

Masters winners have made plenty of eagles on the final nine holes in the past 25 years, right?

Wrong.

Since Jack Nicklaus curled in a short eagle putt on the 15th hole in 1986, only two other golfers have made an eagle on the final nine and gone on to win.

Bernhard Langer made eagle on the 13th in his second Masters win in 1993. A year later, Jose Maria Olazabal used an eagle on the 15th to hold off Tom Lehman for his first win at Augusta National.

Augusta National's two par-5 holes on the second nine are easily reachable in two shots. But with water on both, they can exact a heavy price for an errant shot.

All but two of the winners since 1986 made up ground on at least one of the par-5 holes. Only Sandy Lyle (1988) and Fred Couples (1992) made pars on both and still won.

HOW WINNERS FARED ON THE FINAL NINE SINCE 1986

Hole101112131415161718InTotal

YearPos.Par4435453443672EBrd.Bg.DBg.

1986 T94 backJack Nicklaus33444323430651510

1987 T51 backLarry Mize*54245634336 710330

1988 1Up 3Sandy Lyle45554524337 710211

1989 T93 backNick Faldo*45343523433 650410

1990 32 backNick Faldo*54344424434 690310

1991 1Up 3Ian Woosnam54364434437720120

19922Up 1Fred Couples44353534435700100

19931Up 2Bernhard Langer44334434534701110

19942TiedJose Maria Olazabal44354335435691010

1995 T1Up 1Ben Crenshaw44344523534680310

199622 backNick Faldo44344434333670300

1997 1Up 9Tiger Woods43343534433690300

1998 T21 backMark O'Meara54354433334670310

1999 1TiedJose Maria Olazabal34344524433710300

2000 1Up 1Vijay Singh45344444335690320

2001 1Up 1Tiger Woods43444534334680310

2002T1Up 4Tiger Woods45354435437710120

20032Up 2Mike Weir*44344434434680200

2004T11 backPhil Mickelson44243524331690500

20051Up 3Tiger Woods*54354425537710230

20061Up 1Phil Mickelson44344434535690210

2007T41 backZach Johnson44343525434690310

20081Up 4Trevor Immelman44444554438750111

2009T11 backAngel Cabrera*54344424434710310

20102Up 1Phil Mickelson44244434332670400

* Won playoff