A look back at key anniversaries at the Masters

Published: Apr. 6, 2023 at 7:28 AM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. - Here’s a look at some of the anniversaries this year at the Masters:

75 years ago (1948)

The first 11 winners of the Masters were all tour professionals. That changed when Claude Harmon arrived in 1948, having qualified with a tie for 19th in the U.S. Open the previous year. Harmon was the club professional at Winged Foot in the summer and at Seminole in the winter. He opened with a pair of 70s to trail by one, and he took the 54-hole lead with a 69. Harmon turned Sunday into a rout with a birdie-birdie-eagle stretch late on the front nine. He led by seven shots most of the back nine and won by five over Cary Middlecoff, tying Ben Hogan’s record for margin of victory. This was the last year the winner did not receive a green jacket upon winning. That tradition began in 1949, and previous winners were given jackets. It also was the last playing appearance of co-founder Bobby Jones.

50 years ago (1973)

Tommy Aaron went from the first-round lead (68) to four shots behind Peter Oosterhuis going into the final round, which was played on a Monday because of heavy rain that wiped out most of Saturday. And then he changed his Masters history by opening with three straight birdies and closing with a 68 as Oosterhuis faded. Aaron won by one shot over J.C. Snead. Until then, Aaron was best known at Augusta National for keeping the card of Roberto De Vicenzo in 1968, when the Argentine mistakenly signed for a higher score and was kept out of a playoff with Bob Goalby. Aaron checked his card Sunday and found Johnny Miller had put him down for a 5 on the 13th instead of his birdie 4. Had he signed the card without fixing the mistake, he would have been in a playoff.

25 years ago (1998)

Mark O’Meara won his first major at age 41 in the most unlikely fashion. He joined Arnold Palmer in 1960 as the only players to birdie the last two holes at Augusta National to win by one shot. It capped an amazing back nine that started with Fred Couples having a two-shot lead, only for David Duval to build a three-shot lead, and then O’Meara to come racing across the line with three birdies over the last four holes for a 67 and a one-shot win over Duval and Couples. The other star Sunday was none other than 58-year-old Jack Nicklaus. He had four birdies in seven holes that had the hair standing on the neck of spectators. Nicklaus wound up in a tie for sixth. O’Meara won in his 15th appearance, at the time a Masters record.

20 years ago (2003)

The Masters finally had a lefty as a champion, just not whom anyone expected. Mike Weir became the first Canadian to win the green jacket with gutsy par putts down the stretch for a 68 and a playoff win over Len Mattiace. It capped nine months of Martha Burk and her National Council of Women’s Organizations protesting the all-male membership of Augusta National. The club held its ground as Chairman Hootie Johnson famously said having a female join would be on the club’s timetable “and not at the point of a bayonet.” Augusta National dismissed its four corporate partners to keep them out of the controversy, leading to a commercial-free Masters. Burk staged her protest on Saturday down Washington Road that was poorly attended. Back on the course, Mattiace shot 65 to get into the playoff, but he made double bogey on the first extra hole at No. 10. As for the other Lefty, Phil Mickelson shot 68 and finished third.

10 years ago (2013)

Adam Scott finished what Greg Norman never could. He delivered Australia its first green jacket. But it wasn’t easy. Scott thought he had it won with a 20-foot birdie on the 18th hole for a 69, only to hear an enormous cheer when Angel Cabrera in the final group stuffed a 7-iron to 3 feet for birdie and a 70, forcing a playoff. Scott won it on the second extra hole with a 12-foot birdie on No. 10. The controversy involved Tiger Woods, who took an improper drop on the 15th hole of the second round that wasn’t discovered until after his round. With the two-stroke penalty, he signed for the wrong score. The Masters didn’t disqualify him, saying it didn’t initially see anything wrong and didn’t bother to ask Woods about it before he signed his card. But it was a big talking point all weekend, finally giving way to an Australian finally winning the Masters. Woods tied for fourth, four shots back.

5 years ago (2018)

Patrick Reed turned back an early challenge from Rory McIlroy, an amazing rally by Jordan Spieth and one last surge by Rickie Fowler to win the Masters for his only major. The gallery was clearly on McIlroy’s side as he started the final round three shots behind Reed in a bid for the fourth and final leg of the career Grand Slam. McIlroy got within one shot until fading. Spieth was nine shots back to start the final round. He had nine birdies in 16 holes and briefly tied for the lead, only to hit a tree off the 18th tee and close with bogey and a 64. Fowler fell as many as six shots behind until finishing with six birdies in his last 10 holes for a 67. Reed steadied himself with big par saves down the stretch. He shot 71 and beat Fowler by one shot.