1959: Art Wall Jr. takes lead on 18 to win Masters
Art Wall Jr. didn't have the charisma of Arnold Palmer, the worldliness of Gary Player or the power game of Jack Nicklaus.
Wall never became one of the game's superstars, and his quiet nature kept him in the background. Of course, playing in the shadow of the Big Three -- Palmer, Nicklaus and Player -- didn't help either.
But 50 years ago, Wall became the only player outside of that celebrated trio to win the Masters Tournament from 1958 to 1966.
In the final round, Wall put on one of the most dazzling displays of golf ever seen at Augusta National Golf Club to win the Masters by one stroke over Cary Middlecoff. His five birdies in the final six holes, including the 11-foot putt to win on the final hole, secured one of the top comebacks in tournament history.
Wall, a Pennsylvania native, played golf at Duke University. He roomed with Jim McNair, a former Aiken golf professional who ran Highland Park Country Club.
"He was very quiet and serious," McNair told The Augusta Chronicle after Wall died in 2001.
Wall started the final round in 1959 six shots behind co-leaders Stan Leonard and Arnold Palmer. He shot 34 on the front nine, but a three-putt bogey at the 10th halted his momentum.
After making pars at Nos. 11 and 12, his birdie streak began. He two-putted Nos. 13 and 15, and ran in a 20-foot putt at the 14th. After a par at the 16th, Wall made another birdie at the 17th from 15 feet.
Coming to the final hole, Wall knew he was ahead of Leonard and Palmer. Wall's 8-iron approach at No. 18 left him an 11-foot putt for birdie.
Middlecoff had made eagle on the 15th, and that tied him with Wall for the lead. Wall discovered that as he approached the green.
He studied the putt carefully, then rolled it into the cup.
"When it was a foot from the hole, I knew it was in the cup," he told reporters.
His comeback ranks as fourth best at the Masters, though the top three had 18 holes to mount their comebacks.
He also was the first of six players to birdie the 18th hole to win the Masters. Wall also was the first to take his only outright lead of the tournament on his final hole, a feat since matched by Gary Player and Mark O'Meara.
Despite the finish, Wall was surprised by his newfound fame."
(It) was a revelation to me. I lived a different sort of life," he told The Chronicle in an interview. "I had invitations here and there, and requests for appearances. I couldn't believe what happened."
Wall was unable to defend his title in 1960. A kidney ailment and knee injury sidelined him.
Wall's other claim to fame was a penchant for making holes-in-one. He reportedly made 45 in his career, and he still shares the record for lowest score in the Par-3 Contest with Gay Brewer at 7-under 20.
|1||Art Wall Jr.||-4||73||74||71||66||$15,000|
|6||Charles R. Coe||E||74||74||67||73||-|
|8||William J Patton||+2||75||70||71||74||-|