Masters memories: Ian Woosnam snatches victory in 1991

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The background: Everyone remembers Ian Woosnam’s winning putt, but what made it extra special was the context.

The Welshman, despite having been a fixture of European golf for the best part of a decade, only made his Masters debut in 1988 and he arrived at Augusta National for this tournament during a glorious time for British golf.

Sandy Lyle’s triumph and back-to-back victories for Nick Faldo had established the Georgia course as a little corner of the United Kingdom.

Woosnam made sure that continued.

The scene: As the tournament reached the 72nd hole, three players were locked together at -11.

Woosnam was joined with two-time champion Tom Watson and Jose Maria Olazabal in the fight for the coveted green jacket.

Olazabal was a group ahead of his two rivals but faltered badly on the difficult final hole, going from bunker to bunker and failing to hole a 45-foot putt to save par.

Watson, who had surged from four shots back of Woosnam with eagles at 13 and 15, faded a three wood into the trees and then hit his second shot into a greenside bunker.

When he three-putted for a double bogey, it left the way clear for the 33-year-old Woosnam.

Apr 1991:  Ian Woosnam of Wales punches the air in triumph as he watches his winning putt on the 18th green during the US Masters at Augusta in Georgia, USA.  Mandatory Credit: Stephen Munday /AllsportThe moment: Facing the diminutive player was an eight foot putt for par. Miss and it would be a playoff with Olazabal.

“I felt good over it,” he later said. “And it was like there was a voice saying to me, ‘This is your time, step up’. It was my turn.”

As the putt moved inexorably towards the bottom of the cup, the shutters clicked and captured a memorable image of Woosnam dropping to his right knee and pumping out a victory salute.

 

They didn’t have a jacket to fit the 5ft 4in champion’s frame at the victory ceremony – he borrowed a press officer’s – but it mattered little.

He had achieved golfing immortality.

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