by Jeff Skinner
One of the most appealing aspects of The Masters is all the history that goes along with it. Since it’s the only major played on the same course each year we see the same holes produce drama year after year. There have been some historic shots played over those hallowed grounds. One shot that could be termed famous or infamous is Larry Mize’s chip in to beat Greg Norman win the 1987 Masters
If you were Larry Mize it was the greatest moment of his career. If you were Greg Norman it was heartbreaking. It was a magical moment for Mize, an Augusta native who worked a Masters scoreboard as a teenager. Norman had a birdie putt on the final hole to win but missed and he, Mize and Seve Ballesteros went to a sudden death playoff.
After Seve was eliminated on the first hole Mize put his approach 45 yards right of the green. Norman was on the green and it looked like he had the definite advantage. Norman had already won five times on the PGA Tour including the Open Championship and was the most charismatic player in the game. Mize had one win in 1983 and was living out a hometown boy’s dream.
When Mize chipped towards the hole it was a one in a million shot. As the ball approached the hole Mize started his sprint and when it fell in the cup he might as well have been running over Norman’s heart with his metal spikes. Norman missed his chance at birdie and Mize was on his way to Butler Cabin to get his green jacket.
It was the defining moment of Larry Mize’s career. It was the beginning of Greg Norman’s litany of heartbreaking defeats in major championships. Norman went on to be the most snake-bitten golfer in the history of the game with future meltdowns and disappointments at every major championship. The Masters, The U.S. Open, The Open Championship and The PGA all gave Norman more heartbreak. In fact in 1986 Norman led every major going into the last round, they called it “The Saturday Slam.” He only went on to win The Open Championship that year.
Larry Mize gets to come back each year for the Champions Dinner and revel in the history and traditions of the greatest tournament in the game. Greg Norman gets to think “what If.”