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My Five: Greatest Masters Performances

March 30, 2011
More than any other major, the Masters is about virtuosity. The course, particularly before it was dramatically lengthened in 2003, was one that encouraged aggressive, high-wire golf. With short grass everywhere save for some pine straw, thrilling recoveries from bad drives were common, and a poor approaches could be redeemed with short-game magic. It remains a place where super skills -- like length, the ability to hit soft-landing long approaches, and the talent to achieve pure contact from tight lies -- can more definitively than at the other three majors separate the best from the rest. When great talents have been truly on, the results have been special. Here are the top five times that happened.
Tiger Woods

1. Tiger Woods - 1997

As emphatically as any performance in the history of the game, a new era was announced with Woods' first major championship victory. The 21-year-old shot a record 70-66-65-69-270 to win by 12. Though only 155 pounds, Woods averaged more than 330 yards off the tee, never hitting more than a 7-iron into a par 4, and twice hit wedge for his second to the par-5 15th. "He's so long, he reduces this course to nothing," said Jack Nicklaus. "Absolutely nothing." Woods opened with a nervous 40 on his first nine, then played the next 63 holes in 22-under par. His putting was arguably as strong as his long game, causing the game's wise heads to predict he would win double-digit green jackets.
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