Masters memories: Ian Woosnam snatches victory in 1991
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.
The 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.