Well we have reached the end of the countdown. The Masters starts in one stinkin’ day. As this countdown has gone on, I’ve told you about my favorite Masters moments of my lifetime. Well, for the top spot, I couldn’t pick just one. So let’s call these 1a and 1b.
Masters Moment #1(a): Phil Becomes a Major Champion
During my lifetime, without question, the two biggest superstars in the game of golf have been Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. We’ve talked a lot about Tiger during this countdown, but Phil has yet to make an appearance.
Well not anymore.
When the 2004 season started, pressure was beginning to mount for Phil Mickelson to finally capture an elusive major championship. He was only 33, but it seemed as if time was ticking for Phil. He had long carried the title of “best player to never win a major” and was snake bitten several times.
As the 2004 Masters went on, Mickelson creeped his way into contention. By Sunday morning, he was the leader.
After a front nine 38, it looked as if the pressure of winning his first major might get to Phil. But a back nine 31, including a monster birdie putt on 18, sealed the deal. One of the most talented and creative golfers the game has ever seen, finally had a major championship.
Winning that Masters has apparently opened the floodgates for Phil. He has won four more majors since then and has to be considered a favorite for all of them this year again.
Masters Moment #1(b): Tiger Arrives at Augusta
In 1997, I was 11 years old. For me (and I imagine most 11 year olds) this was about the time where sports began to overtake my life. The 11 year old version of myself knew every stat, every score, every jersey number for every major American sport. I wanted to know everything there was to know about football, baseball, basketball and hockey.
I hadn’t been much of a golf fan. I played on a junior golf team, but it was just something to do in between baseball and football season.
Well folks, that all changed in the spring of 1997 when Tiger Woods showed up at Augusta National.
As Tiger laid the smack down on the Masters field at 21 years old, I became hooked. The style, the game, the swagger, he had it all.
By the time Sunday rolled around and Tiger slipped on his first Green Jacket, golf had a new superstar and new fan. I started watching golf more. I wanted to play more. It was a big moment for me and it was a HUGE moment for professional golf.
Tiger winning the 1997 Masters ushered in a new era in professional golf and made me a fan for life.