Greg Norman thinks he meant it and Larry Mize knows he meant it. So let's celebrate one of the greatest shots in Masters history when local boy Larry took down the Shark and Seve in '87
Larry Mize was actually known back in the day as someone who struggled to get over the line. He had one previous win to his name, the Danny Thomas Memphis Classic in 1983, but otherwise he wasn’t a closer. One or two would nickname him Larry D Mize.
But then, at the 1987 Masters, he birdied the 72nd hole to post a total of 3-under which Seve Ballesteros matched with an up-and-down from the sand while Greg Norman very nearly trumped the pair of them, but his birdie putt slid by.
Ballesteros exited at the 10th, with three putts from the fringe, and Norman looked odds-on to break his Augusta duck with his ball on the edge of the 11th green while Mize had left himself a chip of 140 feet after a terrible approach from the fairway.
A second shot which set up one of the greatest shots in major history with Norman, yet again, the fall guy.
— The Masters (@TheMasters) March 29, 2019
“You want to miss right of the 11th green, there’s no doubt about that. I’ve never hit that chip shot again, though. I hit it that one time to win and I’ve never been back. I want to keep it a pure memory.
“Augusta National has the wedge I used for the chip-in. That’s where it needs to be. The 1987 Masters was the very first week I used that club. Augusta National writes you a letter asking for a club that was instrumental in your victory but they understand that you get attached to clubs and they’re willing to wait. I used that wedge for about a year-and-a-half until I wore the grooves down. It was a Jack Nicklaus Muirfield sand wedge.”
If the year before was off-the-scale special with Nicklaus’ victory then this pushed it pretty close.
“Jack Nicklaus was my favourite golfer growing up. For him to win it at age 46 in 1986 with his son caddying for him was very special. It was a great victory for him and it was a great victory for me because it meant that he put the Green Jacket on me the next year. There was no-one else I would’ve picked, it can’t get any better than that. He said, ‘Well done, champion.’”
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It would take Mize another six years to add a third win and, given the nature of the wonder shot, there will always be cries of outrageous fortune but the player on the wrong end of it was having none of that.
“I feel sorry for him, I really do. A lot of people call it a fluke,” said Norman. “They tell me it was too bad I had to lose on such a lucky shot. I keep telling those people that he wasn’t trying to make a bogey. He was trying to make that shot and that’s exactly what he did.”
Likewise Mize, the only winner to come from Augusta and who is down to play in the 2020 Masters if that ever happens.
“I don’t think it was a fluke. People can think whatever they want. It doesn’t bother me. I don’t have any trouble with it. Remember, I played 73 other holes before that shot. It was an incredible shot. But that’s the way it goes. It can go in from anywhere. And sometimes, it does.”
More Masters Memories
- ‘Everybody loved him’ – but what was it really like to caddie for Seve?
- The inside story of ‘the greatest shot of Mickelson’s career’ – by those who were there
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