The same place that gave us Jack Nicklaus, who won one for mid-life crises everywhere, in 1986, and Ben Crenshaw, who won one for Harvey Penick, in 1995, delivered the trifecta in 2010.
An off-form Phil Mickelson, who arrived at Augusta National with just a single top-10 finish, shook the pines with bold, and borderline reckless, play on Sunday to win his third green jacket and then shed tears moments later when he embraced wife Amy, who had been absent from Tour life for 11 months due to a battle with breast cancer. It was a storybook finish too good, or maybe too unbelievable, for Hollywood, but perfect for Augusta National. – Rex Hoggard, Senior Writer
Come Sunday morning in the final round of a Masters, I like to go down to Amen Corner and sit in the media bleachers above the 12th tee to soak in the grandeur long before the leaders go off. I wasn’t there when Jack Nicklaus won the best Masters ever in 1986, but I got an unexpected echo of what it must have been like in ’98, my second Masters. That’s when Nicklaus, at 58, made an early charge that ended in a tie for sixth. I remember sitting there, enjoying the peacefulness, when this roar detonated up on the hill behind me and cascaded through the pines.
“What the hell was that?” I asked Helen Ross, a fellow writer who had been to a lot more Masters than had I. “That can only be one thing,” she said. “That’s a Nicklaus roar.” Moments later, Nicklaus’ name was put on the leaderboard above the 11th green. Sitting down there in Amen Corner, we heard one roar after another as Nicklaus mounted a charge that would ultimately fall short. But the sounds Nicklaus created before his magic ended, it was like listening to a symphony. – Randall Mell, Senior Writer
Phil Mickelson's victory in 2004 stands out most because I was there. The roars on the second nine were unlike anything I'd ever heard on a golf course with the game's heavyweights, Mickelson and Ernie Els, trading blows. Ultimately Mickelson’s 18-footer finally took the major championship monkey off his back and did so in fine fashion. Els shot 67 that day and thought he had finally done enough to wear the green jacket. When he realized he didn’t, he was as gutted as anyone I’ve ever seen following major disappointment.
Realizing the defining moment was going to be something special – and knowing I’d never get a clear view of the 18th hole – I ducked into the players locker room to watch the final hole. Padraig Harrington, Nick Price and Fred Couples were all glued to the TV. When Phil’s final putt dropped the room went crazy and the ground shook. Phil jumped in the air and yelled “I did it!” I’ll never forget it. – Jay Coffin, Editorial Director
I've worked every Masters for the past 15 years – for the most part – so my most indelible moment takes place in the office. For as much as I recall the panic of trying to cut a highlight tape for 'Golf Central' after Tiger won in '97 (I aged three years that day), and as proud as I felt to see Zach Johnson profess his faith after winning in 2007, it was Tiger's chip in on 16, during the final round in 2005, that stands out most. The collective gasp of about 15 employees in and around the newsroom when Woods' ball stopped on the lip of the cup, a producer falling to his knees, the collective scream when the ball dropped, people recreating Tiger's dorky celebration. Good times. – Mercer Baggs, Managing Editor
The 1996 Masters ranks as one of the worst all-time sporting days in my life. Greg Norman played so masterfully for the first three days. As one of my favorite athletes, not just in golf, I foolishly felt confident that Sunday. And then came the short missed putt at No. 11 and the Dead Man Walking march was on. I felt sick the rest of the day. I still get pissed knowing that he isn't at the Champions Dinner every year. – Brian Koressel, Senior Producer
‘Surreal.’ That’s the word Zach Johnson used over and over again when he was asked about holding off Tiger Woods down the stretch to win at Augusta in 2007.
Having played against Johnson at a rival college and then rooming with him on the mini-tours thereafter, the moment Phil Mickelson draped that crested coat across his shoulders was about as surreal to his longtime friends as it was to him. I’ll never forget his tenacity on those last few holes; that chip on the 18th. And, of course, the embrace with wife Kim and newborn son Will after the victory. All Masters memories are great. This one, I’m just grateful to have. – Jon Levy, Associate Editor
There are certain moments in life when the emotions of others around us, particularly those of our loved ones, can be so fervent that by mere observation, we are overcome with sentiment. That’s what the 2004 Masters was for me – the osmosis of my parents’ passion and euphoria over Phil Mickelson’s victory into joy of my own.
Not that I wasn’t happy in my own right to see Mickelson win the green jacket, but at a mere 17 years of age, I was unable to comprehend or appreciate the significance of the event I had just witnessed on TV. Experiencing the excitement of Mickelson’s victory through my parents’ happiness was all the convincing I needed to know that a special moment in history had just occurred. – Bailey Mosier, Contributing Editor