Back-To-Back Birdies Cinch 60 Masters

By George WhiteApril 5, 2004, 4:00 pm
Arnold Palmer was a national hero by 1960, and his play that year verified it. He would win eight times in a hugely successful campaign, signifying the start of a four-year run when he would visit the winners circle 29 times.
Palmer had started 1960 rather slowly ' for him. He had just one win in the seasons first eight tournaments ' in Palm Springs at the new Desert Classic, now the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic.
However, when he got warmed up, he absolutely tore through the lineup. Three straight tournaments produced three more Palmer wins ' the Texas Open, Baton Rouge and Pensacola. Now it was a month later, and Palmer ' who by now owned four victories ' was about to play his sixth Masters.
Arnie opened with a hot 67 to lead the field, then backed that up with a 73 to own a narrow one-stroke margin over second-place duo of close friend Dow Finsterwald and Ben Hogan. And after a third-round score of even-par 72, he still managed to lead by a single stroke over the foursome of Finsterwald, Hogan, Ken Venturi and Julius Boros.
Hogan hit greens in the final round but putted miserably, shooting 76 and fading from competition ' one of the last times he ever threatened at the Masters. Palmer had a rather ho-hum front nine and fell behind Venturi and Finsterwald, paired together, by a stroke going into No. 10.
Two poor chips cost Arnold birdies on the par-5s ' 13 and 15. And up ahead, Venturi and Finsterwald were left to duke it out. They arrived at 18 tied for the lead, but Finsterwald missed an eight-foot putt and bogeyed the hole, while Venturi parred it and settled into a greenside cabin to be measured for the ensuing green jacket.
Meanwhile, Palmer was facing a 25-foot putt on the par-3 16th, and on this occasion he left the pin in ' which was still allowed by the rulebook. Arnie stroked the birdie putt ' and was chagrined to see it clang into the flagpole and spin away. Ahead lay the difficult 17th and 18th holes, and only rarely had either been birdied this day. And he still was a stroke behind Venturi.
Palmer left his approach 30 feet short on 17. However, it was his incredibly good fortune that, after twice backing away, he sent the putt twisting into the cup for a most unlikely birdie. He had tied Venturi, who got up to get ready for the playoff.
But wait ' here was Arnold on 18, smashing a good drive into the fairway. And then he lashed what he later would call his greatest shot ever ' a 6-iron that trickled up to within five feet of the pin.
He still had to make the putt, however. Venturi had missed a birdie try from virtually the same spot on the green. But Palmers stroke slid into the cup, and he had his second Masters victory.
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