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Monday 5 December 2016

Some magic moments over years at the Masters

Phil Mickelson, left, openly criticised Tom Watson's Ryder Cup captaincy
Phil Mickelson, left, openly criticised Tom Watson's Ryder Cup captaincy

The US Masters almost always produces dramatic golf worthy of the beautiful backdrop of Augusta National. Here are five of the most memorable moments.

1. 1986 - Nicklaus rolls back the years

Jack Nicklaus was 46 years old, had not won a tournament in two years or a major in six, and was being written off as a spent force. But the Golden Bear produced one more back-nine charge in the 50th Masters, coming home in 30 for a final round of 65 to beat Greg Norman and Tom Kite by a single shot. Nicklaus went eagle-birdie-birdie on the 15th, 16th and 17th and the sight of him holding his putter aloft as the birdie putt on 17 tracked towards the hole remains one of golf's most iconic images.

2. 2004 - Mickelson ends major drought

''I don't think any Masters will ever compare to the '86 Masters but, for me, this one does.'' That was the verdict of an emotional Phil Mickelson after he had broken his major duck at the 47th time of asking. Mickelson had shared the lead with Chris Di Marco heading into the final round, but struggled to a front-nine 38 before a brilliant back nine of 31, culminating in a decisive birdie on the 18th, was enough to beat Ernie Els by a shot after the South African's excellent 67.

3. 1996 - Norman's nightmare

Not a moment as such, more of a four-hour meltdown that has now even inspired a book detailing every shot of the dramatic final round. Greg Norman led from the outset after an opening 63, the joint lowest score ever in a major championship and only the second 63 ever at Augusta, and after adding rounds of 69 and 71 he was six shots clear of Nick Faldo. However, his lead was down to two shots by the turn and a back nine of 40 - despite two birdies - meant a closing 78 to Faldo's 67 and a five-shot winning margin for the Englishman.

4. 2011 - McIlroy's meltdown

A 21-year-old Rory McIlroy looked nailed on for his first major triumph, leading the field by four going into the final round. But a barely believable round of 80 cost him the green jacket, the Northern Irishman finishing a staggering 10 shots behind South African winner Charl Schwartzel. A wild drive at the 10th, finishing at a point no ball had seen before down near the on-course cabins, summed up McIlroy's misery.

5. 2005 - Woods is a sponsor's dream

Woods was protecting a one-shot lead over Chris DiMarco when a poor tee shot on the 16th looked to have left him an impossible shot from over the green. However, the world number one used the severe contours of the green to his advantage, the ball trickling down a slope towards the hole. It seemed certain to stop on the edge, but after the cameras zoomed in on a perfectly-displayed sponsor's logo, one last roll saw it fall into the cup as the Augusta faithful wnet wild with excitement.

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