Ian Woosnam and caddie Phil Morbey discuss the final-hole drama that gave the Welshman a memorable Masters victory 30 years ago
We’ll always remember it for the celebration, a one-kneed fist-clenched triumphal roar, as the putt caught the edge of the hole and dropped.
Then for the bear hug, as Ian Woosnam – all five feet and four inches of him – was lifted clean off his feet by caddie Phil Morbey.
“What were your famous words, when I picked you up and twirled you round? Can you remember?” asks his former bagman as the pair sit under a packed marquee reminiscing about the 1991 Masters.
“Put me down you stupid ****!”
The audience erupts. “That’s the thanks you get,” wisecracks Morbey, still known to all as Wobbly, and they’re in fits again.
Thirty years on and the story of Woosnam’s run to the Green Jacket never gets old in the retelling.
Maybe, in hindsight, it was meant to be. He started the year shooting 57 at his home course of Oswestry and had won the Mediterranean Open, in France, and the USF&G Classic, in Louisiana, before making that famous drive down Magnolia Lane.
On the Monday, of what was to become a defining week in April, he became World No 1. “I stand on the 1st tee and I think ‘I’m the best player here’,” he remembers.
“It gave me massive confidence and the chance to go ahead and do what I did that week.”
But what you might have forgotten, in those glorious memories of the aftermath, was how classic a duel it had been for a Sunday afternoon on the back nine at Augusta.
Woosnam led by three after a birdie at the 9th, but both Jose Maria Olazabal and Tom Watson, the latter courtesy of eagles at 13 and 15, ate into the lead.
As the Welshman stood on the 18th tee, he was in a three-way tie at 11-under. So paired with Watson, with Olazabal marching up the last, and a partisan crowd cheering on their home favourite, let Woosnam and Morbey describe the action and remember how the Masters was won…
Woosnam: It’s like you are in a movie and it’s going slow motion. You wonder what the end’s going to be. It’s taking forever.
Morbey: We could see Jose in front and we could see he’d hit it in the trap off the tee. Then he hit in the greenside trap and we could see his shot and we could see him coming back down the hill. We knew he’d made five and it was really us and Watson. Just waiting to tee off, really.
Woosnam: Watson gets on the tee and he’s umming and ahhing to either his 2-iron or he’s going to hit a driver. Then, all of a sudden, he pulls out a 3-wood. Basically, still with a 3-wood, he’s got to cut it off the bunker and he overdoes it and goes in the trees. Well, you go in the trees it’s going to be hard work to make a four.
That’s where we said, ‘Make the decision, aim up the middle of the fairway. If it goes straight, or I hook it a little bit, no problem. It’s down on the old practice ground and we work it out from there.’
Morbey: We played it downwind in practice and so we knew, with a good ‘un, we could get over that bunker. It was so funny because in the practice, and this is when you used to do the courses, you used to have a yardage ruler.
I’d got a sprinkler over this bunker and I knew the exact yardage from the sprinkler. So I’m thinking it’s perfect. He’s hit it over this bunker and I thought, ‘We’re going to get this sprinkler. I’ve got it. No problem.’
And there were nearly 20,000 people there. Could I find the sprinkler? Could I hell!
Woosnam: What happens is that at the Masters on the last day, or every day, you’re allowed to go and put your chair down. At 8 o’clock. Take your chair down. You leave it there and it’s there all day. No one else sits on it.
So we’re down there, way left, and we’re trying to go into the green. And we’re trying to move these crowds.
I said, ‘What do you think the yardage is, Wob?’ He says, ‘I think it’s 158.’
Morbey: Well, I went and paced it, didn’t I? I paced it. It was like 55 downwind.
Woosnam: Well, whatever it was. Wrong club again. Came up short.
Morbey: He hit an 8-iron. Just came up a little bit short, left on the middle. Just off the middle of the green, on the fringe. He put it down to seven feet. The funny thing was, up to the 70th hole, he hadn’t asked me the line of a putt.
So he called me on 16. My mouth’s dry and I think we agreed on inside left there. We get on the last, obviously it’s seven feet and he said, ‘Come and have a look at this.’ I’m thinking, ‘Cheers, lad!’
Actually, I think I said inside of right and Woosie said right lip and in it went. Thank god for that.
Woosnam: No, it was a ball outside of the right, Wob. Sorry.
Morbey: You must have pushed it then.
Woosnam: Can you remember what I said to you just before? We’re like two yards short of the green. It’s cut into the grain and it went up and left, and then it went right. I said, ‘There’s no way I’m chipping this. I’m going to putt it.’
Morbey: It was phenomenal. Tom Watson was a complete gentleman as well. We played with him the last two days. He was really good.
Woosnam: He was brilliant. I had a bit of hassle and he had a chat with me and said, ‘I used to get that when I was younger playing with Jack Nicklaus.’ It was a bit hostile out there for a while but he was great. Dave Musgrove was caddying for him.
As soon I holed my putt, he shook my hand and Watson shook my hand. He missed his putt and took six in the end. Great feeling. Great memories.
Morbey: There was a little bit of polite applause from the American crowd because, obviously, they wanted Tom Watson to win. And there was a fellow Yorkshireman behind shouting ‘Get in there!’ That was Billy Foster. He was the only guy that jumped for joy, really.
Woosnam: There’s a picture I’ve got and there’s one person standing up, I think. You get to that stage. You wonder if you’re ever going to win a major. The weather did me a favour that week. It was playing a bit longer and I felt I was one of the best players in the world, one of the best iron players in the world.
Augusta’s all about getting your ball in the right position and I felt I could do that. Putting, I wasn’t the greatest, but I got it in the right place and I managed to come through.
Woosnam and Morbey were speaking at the inaugural Welcome to Yorkshire Ian Woosnam Senior Golf Classic at Ilkley Golf Club