A closer look at clutch shots from Tiger Woods’ memorable Masters win
4 Min Read
Written by Sean Martin @PGATOURSMartin
AUGUSTA, Ga. – Tiger Woods needed every shot to win his fifth green jacket. He hit some memorable ones to finish a shot ahead of Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson and Xander Schauffele, and complete one of the most incredible stories in Masters history.
This was vintage Woods. He had control of the ball, picked his spots to be aggressive and waited for others to make mistakes. It was a formula that helped him win many of his first 14 majors and it paid off again in No. 15.
The world was watching Woods’ win. In case you weren’t, or you just want to relive the highlights, here’s a look at five key shots from Sunday.
1. Tee shot at 16
Yardage: 178 yards
Club: 8 iron
Situation: Leader by 1
What happened: If that ball had gone in, the roars would still be reverberating through the genteel grounds of Augusta National. Woods had just walked off the 15th green with his first solo lead of the day. Then he stepped up and knocked an 8-iron stiff, taking advantage of the traditional Sunday hole location to leave himself a short birdie putt.
It was fitting that Woods took control of this tournament on No. 16, the hole that was so pivotal in his last Masters victory. His chip-in against Chris DiMarco was one of the most memorable shots of his career. This one will be high on his career’s highlight reel, as well. It marked the moment when his Masters victory felt inevitable.
2. Tee shot at 12
Yardage: 155 yards
Situation: Two behind
What happened: All around him, players were making a mess of the shortest hole of the Masters. Four players in the final two groups hit their tee shots into the water. Woods saw Brooks Koepka rinse his tee shot in the group ahead, then had to follow Francesco Molinari after he did the same. Usually hitting a 9-iron to 50 feet isn’t highlight reel stuff, but it showed the course management that’s been key to Woods’ 15 major titles. It takes discipline to aim a short-iron away from the flag, and it was a decision that was crucial to Woods’ victory.
“I knew my 9-iron couldn’t cover the flag, so I had to play left,” Woods said. “I said, ‘Just be committed, hit it over that tongue in that bunker. Let’s get out of here and let’s go handle the par-5s,’ and I did.”
3. Putt at 9
Distance: 70 feet
Situation: 1 back
What happened: Woods wasn’t happy with his 8-iron after sending his ball sailing to the back of the ninth green. He was left with a downhill, breaking putt that had to be played delicately. The ball trickled and trickled before stopping a foot from the hole. The putt gave Woods an opportunity to think back to the advice that his father, Earl, instilled when Woods was a kid.
“’Putt to the picture,’ that’s what he always taught me to do, and that’s what I just kept telling myself out there,” Woods said. “Putt to the picture.”
The two-putt kept Woods within one shot of Molinari entering the back nine.
4. Approach at 11
Yardage: 178 yards
Situation: 2 back
What happened: Woods had just fallen two shots back after driving behind a tree on the 10th hole. Now he blocked another tee shot into the trees. This tee shot would have worked well back in the day, when a wider 11th fairway allowed players to hit their tee shots out to the right in order to get the best angle into a green fronted by a pond. Augusta National planted trees there, though, to bring some of the bite back to one of the course’s toughest holes. Woods had to scramble to save par this time.
“I just kept saying, ‘If I can just sneak out of here with a par, we have a lot of golf left,’” Woods said.
He laced a low, drawing 7-iron through an alleyway in the trees and onto the green. A miscue here could have further padded Molinari’s lead, as the ground funnels balls toward the lake in front of the green. That was the last time Woods had to scramble. His ball-striking was rock solid as he built a two-shot advantaged walking to the 18th tee.
5. Second shot at 15
Yardage: 234 yards
Situation: Tied for the lead
What happened: The second shot at 15 is one of the scariest at Augusta National. So much can go wrong if you miss the tiny target. And so much was on the line when Woods stood over his ball. He was in a five-way tie for the lead as he looked over his 234-yard shot.
Woods hit a high draw to the center of the green, though, and two-putted for birdie to take his first solo lead of the week.
Sean Martin manages PGATOUR.COM’s staff of writers as the Lead, Editorial. He covered all levels of competitive golf at Golfweek Magazine for seven years, including tournaments on four continents, before coming to the PGA TOUR in 2013. Follow Sean Martin on Twitter.