While the Ryder Cup is a great spectacle, and all of golf’s majors are highly coveted prizes for all golfers, there’s one tournament win that’s the pinnacle of every golfer’s career: The Masters. Winning the Green Jacket at Augusta National is a rite of passage and is something that all golfers aspire to throughout their careers. Dustin Johnson won his first-ever green jacket at Augusta last year, the only surprise being that it has taken Dustin this long to clinch his first-ever Masters’ title.
Tiger winning at Augusta in 2019 was more of a shock, given the fact that many had ruled his career all but over after a tumultuous few years following his unrivalled success in the early part of his career. But Tiger’s win doesn’t make our list of the top five biggest shocks in Masters golf history. Let’s take a look at them now.
Larry Mize’s success in ’87 at Augusta may just be the biggest upset in the whole of golf, let alone The Masters. In one of Augusta’s most famous playoffs to date, Mize battled it out with Seve and Greg Norman. After eliminating Seve, Mize landed a 140-yard chip to pip Norman at the death, and Mize clinched the win. What makes Mize’s success so remarkable is the fact that until ’87, he was relatively unknown in the world of golf, coupled with the fact that he’s an Augusta native. Arguably Augusta’s most popular, and shock, winner.
In 2016, Willett became only the second-ever Englishman to win the Masters. But it might be fair to say although Willet was superb, his title was handed to him by Jordan Speith’s self-implosion. Speith went into the week in the form of his life and looked all but certain of clinching consecutive titles at Augusta going into the last six holes with a five-shot lead. While Speith undoubtedly capitulated, Willett sunk an impressive three birdies in the final six to mark perhaps the greatest ever turnaround in Masters history, something which many of the biggest golf betting websites didn’t predict, resulting in huge losses for them.
In 2011, South African Charl Schwartzel clinched the Masters in a similar way to Danny Willett in 2016. He carded an impressive 66 on the last day to clinch victory, ahead of Aussies Jason Day and Adam Scott. However, the 2011 Masters will forever be remembered as the one that got away from Rory Mcilroy. Mcilroy, then 21, was in scintillating form going into the competition. He led for the first three rounds, and all he needed to do was keep a level head going into the last day. Sadly for Rory, he capitulated on the back nine and carded a round of eighty to drop back to four under. His run from the tenth included a triple-bogey, bogey, and double-bogey, a disastrous run that Schwartzel impressively capitalised on to clinch his maiden major title.
The second South African on this list, Immelman’s win in 2008 is nothing short of a fairy tale. Just four months before the Masters, Immelman had an operation to remove a tumour on his diaphragm, which could have spelled the end of his promising career. Instead, he turned up to Augusta and played the golf of his life, carding 68, 68, and 69 going into the last. He saw off the threat of Tiger in the final round and secured his first and only major. Overcoming life-threatening surgery and winning the pinnacle prize in golf in the same year earned Immelman much praise amongst his peers, and he’s remembered fondly as a popular underdog winner at Augusta.
The year prior to Immelman’s win saw another shock win at Augusta, as unfancied Zach Johnson took the prize. Although a household name today, back in 2007, Johnson was a relative unknown, and all the attention was on Tiger. It wasn’t just fans of golf that didn’t fancy him; he was priced at 125-1 by the bookies, carrying odds better than only eleven other players in the field. Despite not being fancied, Johnson was consistent throughout the week and birdied three of his final six holes to hold off Tiger in windy conditions. Johnson has built upon his success at Augusta in 2007 and has since gone on to claim the Open Championship and has been a critical component of the US Ryder Cup team.