The Shot Heard Round the World

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April 7, 1935 - a day that will live forever in golf history. On that date the most famous golfer of the day, Gene Sarazen, hit the most famous shot, a 4-wood into the cup at No. 15, in the most famous tournament, the Masters.
 
The outlook was getting progressively dimmer for Sarazen that day, Craig Wood leading by three shots as the little Squire teed off on 15. Wood had just finished with a long birdie putt at 18, going by the clubhouse to freshen up a little before the winner's ceremonies. The leaders weren't sent off last in those days. But Wood's 6-under-par score of 282 was certainly expected to hold up.
 
Joe Williams, a sportswriter from the New York Telegraph, was the only gallery beside the tee when Sarazen and playing partner Walter Hagen teed off at the 15th. Then Williams heard the roar from the crowd at 18 and hurried off to see Wood. 'I've seen enough of you bums, I'm going to see the winner,' harrumphed Williams.
 
Hagen, who would shoot 79, laid up in front of the pond fronting the 15th green. But Sarazen had hit a 250-yard drive down the right side of the fairway, leaving a 230-yard shot to the pin. And at first Sarazen was going to do likewise. 'My lie wasn't too good,' he said.
 
But Sarazen toyed with the idea of catching Wood. To do the trick, he would have to play the final four holes in 3-under. This was a chance to start, but to do so, Sarazen figured he would have to reach the green in two shots. A 3-wood, he figured, would go into the water behind the green. The 4-wood would have to carry the pond if he were to start the rally here.
 
'Stovepipe,' his caddy, thought the risk was too great. But first place was worth a whopping $500 and second only $300, so Sarazen pulled the 4-wood.
 
It was a Turfrider, so called because its hollow-back sole was perfect for a tight lie such as Sarazen faced. Struck conventionally, however, it would not be adequate to carry the pond. Sarazen planned on hooding the club to decrease the loft and gain the extra yardage.
 
Sarazen later wrote about the shot in Thirty Years of Championship Golf, written by himself with Herbert Warren Wind: 'I took my stance with my 4-wood and rode into the shot with every ounce of strength and timing I could muster. The split second I hit the ball I knew it would carry the pond. It tore for the flag on a very low trajectory, no more than 30 feet in the air.'
 
He didn't see the ball go into the hole, set back-right of the green. But the reaction of those around the green - Sarazen estimated there were 23 - told him what had happened.
 
'Usually, they applaud when you hit a good shot,' Sarazen told the Augusta Chronicle.
'When they start jumping and running for the green, it is different.'
 
The shot enabled Sarazen to tie Wood, setting up a 36-hole playoff. Sarazen had shot a 2-under 70 and trounced Wood the next day, shooting an even-par 144 to 149 for Wood for the 36 and the title.
 
Related Links:
  • More Masters Moments
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