Each week we ask our panel of writers, PGA members and golf industry experts to weigh in with their views on the hot topics of the day.
As we all know, the Masters has been postponed for the time being, but this should be Masters Week. When it comes to all-time thrills and highlights, Jack’s win in 1986 and Tigers’ victory last year are, for most golf fans, the two best Masters ever in recent times. Which one comes next?
Jim Deeks, Fairways Magazine (@jimdeeks): Well, for Canadian golf fans, it must surely be the 2003 win by Mike Weir. When he sunk that downhill, 6-foot putt on 18 to force a playoff with Len Mattiace, I think I hit my head on the ceiling when I leapt out of my chair. And then the victory… I DID hit my head on the ceiling! That ranked right up there with Paul Henderson’s goal in the ’72 Canada-Russia series, and the Blue Jays first World Series win in 1992. Touch ‘em all, Joe!
Michael Schurman, Master Professional / Hall of Fame Member, PGA of Canada: I just read where the Masters is scheduled for Nov 9-15, the PGA Aug 3-9 and the US Open Sept 14-20 so maybe our prayers will be answered. I agree that Jack’s in ’86 was unreal, but I’d take Tiger’s in ’97 over Tiger in 2019 for excitement because of what it meant but I don’t think either was the 2nd most exciting. I’d take Larry Mize in ’87 in a playoff over Seve and Greg Norman as 2nd place and then Charl Schwartzel in 2011 when Rory all but ran away and hid for the first 54 holes followed by Charl’s consecutive birdie run to finish.
Dave Kaplan, Freelance Writer (@davykap): I don’t know about best, but I can certainly tell you the three that stick out as the most memorable for me (keep in mind that I’m 32 and have no recollection of seeing a Masters prior to 1995). In order, they are Tiger’s first Masters victory in 1997, when he dominated the field by 12 strokes; Rory’s final-round meltdown in 2011; and Spieth’s WTF moment at Amen Corner in 2016 that ended up costing him his second-straight green jacket.
TJ Rule, Golf Away Tours (@GolfAwayTJ): Well, as a Canadian, impossible to not say 2003. It’s the one I remember most and was the most nervous I’ve been watching any golf tournament and perhaps any sporting event. It was a magical day and one of the top Canadian sports accomplishments.
Hal Quinn, Freelance Writer, Vancouver: When the tourney started on the back nine Sunday, my neighbour called me over to his place to watch it — a first, and last, now that I think of it. Another neighbour was watching with me, so we both grabbed Lays and libations and headed up the street. When it went into a playoff, headed home for more supplies and the wife and daughters were in the living room watching — they never watch golf. When it ended, folks poured out onto the street cheering and yelling like it was 1972. Ya, Weir’s win in 2003 was a thrill.
Peter Mumford, Fairways Magazine (@FairwaysMag): If “best” means edge of your seat excitement, then 2011 was pretty gripping, when Charl Schwartzel birdied the last four holes to edge Adam Scott and Jason Day. Also 2016. Jordan Spieth was on top of the world after having at least one hand on all four majors the year before. He had a five-shot lead with nine holes to go before his excruciating collapse. Neither produced the result I wanted so I’ll go with best finish. That has to be Weir in ‘03. Jeff Maggert or Len Mattiace probably should have won but Weir was the steadier player on that final day.
The Champions Dinner is always scheduled for Tuesday of Masters Week to honour the most recent winner and celebrate with past champions. There are a lot of Hall of Fame players that never managed to enjoy that dinner. Think of Greg Norman, Ernie Els, Johnny Miller, Tom Weiskopf, Lee Trevino and others – players that were in contention but never won. You get to award one honourary Green Jacket to a past Masters competitor based on any criteria you want. Who gets it?
Deeks: I’ve got to give it to Greg Norman. People forget that he could’ve got into a playoff with a par on 18 in 1986 but made bogey instead to hand the victory to Jack. Then there was Larry Mize’s unbelievable chip-in in 1987, plus Greg’s monumental 6-shot meltdown in ’96. Three defeats snatched from the jaws of victory. From 1981 to 2001, it seemed that Greg Norman was on the first page of the Masters leaderboard on Sunday EVERY YEAR… but alas, no green blazer. He deserved at least one.
Schurman: The right sleeve goes to Tom Weiskopf, the left sleeve goes to Ernie Els and the body goes to Greg Norman. They each had their hands on the entire jacket. Each deserves to wear it but somehow Norman seems to fit into the Champions’ Dinner Club more by a tiny bit more because he absolutely ‘lost’ it. The others had it taken away as much as each lost it.
Kaplan: It’s got to be Weiskopf because of the runner-up pain he endured . . . FOUR TIMES!!!!!
Rule: It just seems like Lee Trevino should have been at the Masters every year with his buddies Jack, Arnie and Tom. It’s amazing that his best result at Augusta was a tie for 10th! I’m sure the past champs would have loved a great Tex-Mex feast from the Merry Mex! If you did it on merit, it’s hard not to give it to Norman, who had 6 career top 5’s including 4 in a row in the late 80s, and of course laid that huge egg in the final round in 1996 when Faldo came back from 6 back to beat him.
Quinn: Was a big fan of Norman, best driver of the ball ever, so he should have won it. That collapse was the most painful loss I’ve witnessed in any sport. The dinner would have been great too — lots of Fosters, shrimps on the barbee, and maybe a few bloomin’ onions.
Mumford: I’m pretty sure I’ve seen every Masters Sunday for the past 40 years, except one. In 1996, our men’s hockey league had their final playoff game and BBQ on the same Sunday afternoon that Greg Norman held a six-shot lead heading to the final round at Augusta. Figuring the outcome was just a formality, I set the timer on my VCR to record it so I could watch Norman finally win a most-deserved green jacket later that evening. As our BBQ was winding up, someone reported that Faldo had won. Not possible, I thought. Must be a mistake. Surely, Norman had held on. I still have the tape but have never watched it. Does that mean it never happened?
There is speculation that a Tiger-Phil rematch is in the works. Word is that it may involve the addition of Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. There are also rumours that it could be a charity thing with all proceeds going towards COVID-19 relief. Are you onboard with another Tiger-Phil match of any kind and if so, what’s the best format for something like this?
Deeks: The cause is noble but pardon me if I yawn. The best format would be this: Tiger and Phil should just donate the money without playing the stupid match. They can afford it.
Schurman: I don’t really care. I’m not a Tiger fan and I am not a Phil fan. If the two most watchable golfers have to be propped up by a couple of guys who are not golfers, it doesn’t say much about the appeal for extra-curricular golf on TV. I’ll watch it simply to be informed so I can write about it blogs like this. I’d rather watch a Round Table Discussion between Jack, Lee, Gary and Tom Watson. In fact, let’s have a 6 or 8-week series of a foursome of old-timers made-up of a variety guys from the days of yore sitting around for a couple of hours telling about their trials, travels and tribulations. Imagine, Floyd, Norman, Crenshaw, Els, Doug Sanders, Miller, Irwin, Kite, Price, Curtis, Jack Burke Jr., Crampton, Beard, Geiberger, Goalby, January, Haas, Faldo, David Graham, Lou Graham, JC Snead, Gil Morgan, Bob Charles, Pott, Lyle or Toski. The stories would be incredible.
Kaplan: Normally, I would be ranting about how boring this format is and how these type of A-list matches never live up to their hype. But the world has changed, sports are on an indefinite hiatus and I am STARVED for entertainment and content. Yes, I am down to watch this. If it comes to fruition, I’ll even take the day off of work to watch it. The match play format is fine, with two caveats: 1) there must be prop bets galore and side games/competitions on every hole, including spur-of-the-moment wagers between the players; and 2) whichever network gets the rights for this had better come up with some INTERESTING side-content to show between shots, while the players are walking up the fairways because these types of broadcasts tend to be a slog when there is a pause in the action.
Rule: Let’s be honest, anyone who is a sports fan will watch if not just because it’s finally a live sporting event! I mean, people are watching Belarussian soccer games right now! And normally I wouldn’t be too interested in this type of event, but I would be tuning in for sure. If they added Brady and Manning, it would help, at least Peyton brings some personality to the proceedings!
Quinn: The only thing I like about it is the COVID-19 charity aspect (the 40-something QBs is just goofy). With no gallery, all revenue would have to come from TV, and all production crews would be putting themselves at risk just getting to a site. Not going to happen. If we ever get back to so-called normal, only format should be skins with each player putting up their own money. Also, not going to happen.
Mumford: Tiger vs Phil in the ring for 10 rounds sounds about right. Phil has a huge height and weight advantage, but Tiger should be quicker. I have zero interest in any kind of replay of The Match in any form whatsoever. The first one was the biggest waste of time since the Kardashians were invented. Maybe, Tiger and Phil caddying for Brady and Manning could be fun. Otherwise, test patterns would be more entertaining.