19 things you might not remember from the final round of the 2000 Masters
This is the fourth installment of our Masters Rewatch series, in which we watch and recap the last 23 final rounds of the Masters while we’re working from home due to the coronavirus. What better way to get your Masters fix while in quarantine than by firing up YouTube and remembering all the stuff you might have missed from past Sundays at Augusta National?
The 2000 golf season is recalled as one of the greatest of all time because …
Vijay Singh won the Masters.
If we asked you before you saw this who won the green jacket in 2000 at Augusta, the first guess would probably be Tiger Woods. Safety in numbers. Woods won the major most recently before it, the ’99 PGA Championship at Medinah, and the four majors after it.
This is what we remember about 2000: Woods’ 15-shot dissection of the field and Pebble Beach in the U.S. Open. The Open Championship title at St. Andrews that made Woods the youngest, at 24, to have won all four major titles in a career. The point-at-the-birdie-putt-in-the-PGA-Championship-playoff triumph over Bob May at Valhalla. Then the circling back for the Tiger Slam at Augusta in 2001.
Five majors wins in six played. Only one man put his big palm in Woods’ face and said, “Not this one, bro.”
Vijay Singh. Unlikely as that was at the time.
When the then-37-year-old arrived at Augusta National in 2000, he’d already competed for a green jacket six times. His best finish: T-17, which was his worst best showing among any majors. He was already a major winner, with the 1998 PGA Championship from Sahalee among his then-eight PGA Tour trophies. But his sometimes stone-handed putting made him an automatic write-off when it came to Augusta’s demanding greens.
There wasn’t a short putt Singh couldn’t miss. He’d already tried a broomstick putter, and in early 2000 was using a left-hand low grip. A check of the stats of that season reveals he still didn’t get much better, ranking 99th on the PGA Tour in putting average.
But for one week at Augusta, Singh’s driving and ball-striking were so superb that even he couldn’t muck it up on the greens, and in a final round that was far more tense than the three-shot winning margin says it was—thanks to some pressure applied early by David Duval and late by Ernie Els—Singh seized the green jacket and the second of his three career major victories. And here’s how it happened:
1.) The first shot we see live during CBS final-round broadcast is—not Tiger!—Duval draining a birdie at the par-3 sixth, and he’s tied for the lead. We’ve got a tournament! Oh, but then Singh, playing in the final pairing with Duval, makes his own birdie at 6, and he’s back to having a one-shot lead.
Get used to this. It’s the way it would go for much of the front nine—Duval making birdies at eight and nine, only for Singh to answer and keep his foot on Duval’s ever-thinning neck.
2.) This is the “new” Duval, the one who left his former pudgy self in the dust with workout routines that only Woods was probably matching or surpassing at the time. For the final round, Duval has taken on a Gary Player vibe—all black, from his hat and tight mock turtleneck (ahead of his time!) to his shoes. Eyes hidden behind the signature wraparound sunglasses, Duval remains expressionless through the good shots and bad. (And there will be one very bad one to come.)
“If this is survival of the fittest,” CBS anchor Jim Nantz says of Duval, “he’s the one who’s going to win for sure.”
3.) The opening montage has all the right cast members—Byron Nelson, Sam Snead, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus—appearing on the clubhouse veranda waxing poetic about their wins at Augusta. But they’re obviously reading from a pre-written script and it all seems a bit stilted. Disappointing.
4.) CBS shows the ceremonial opening tee shots, but there’s a bit of melancholy to this one. It’s the end of an era. Augusta Chairman Hootie Johnson asks for a moment of silence for Gene Sarazen, who died a month after the 1999 Masters at 97. The Squire is one of Augusta’s most cherished champions because of his 1935 victory, in the second Masters, that’s known for his double eagle at 15—at which the bridge has been named in his honor since 1955.
5.) It’s been a rough 24 hours in Augusta. Though Sunday is gorgeous, the weather was terrible on Saturday, with rain and high winds. Play was delayed enough that some of the golfers had to return early on Sunday morning to complete their third rounds. Singh played four holes in the morning, making all pars, to finish with an impressive 70 considering the nasty conditions. In fact, it’s probably the round that won him the tournament, considering Els was four shots worse in the third round and lost by three.
6.) Woods makes his first appearance while playing the uphill, par-5 eighth. We see him on the edge of the trees, taking a mighty lash from the pine straw and holding onto a contorted finish. (That looks like it could hurt your back, we’re thinking now; we were just in awe at the time.) The shot ends up just short of the green, and Tiger pitches nicely and makes his third birdie on the front. After a third-round 68, the ’97 Masters champ is only three back with 11 to play. CBS likes this very much.
7.) This is what we don’t like: Tiger’s wardrobe. If you think the Sunday red shirt was a staple for all time, think again. Tiger’s Nike shirt (seemingly two sizes too big with enormous sleeves) is horizontal zebra-striped black-and-white. Are they black stripes on white or white stripes on black? We can’t tell, but there is a splash of what looks like maroon at the bottom, though none of this says, “I’m going to crush you all today.”
8.) Tiger does no crushing. In fact, after No. 8, he scares the lip on a few holes, but doesn’t really get into the mix. The early holes on the back nine killed him. Woods played them six over for the tournament, including making a triple at the 12th in the first round.
9.) At No. 9, 44-year-old Loren Roberts—“Boss of the Moss”—makes an incredible birdie. He nearly has his back turned to the hole in aiming 15 feet right, and the ball tracks all the way to dive in. He gives a big fist pump and is only two back.
But pure putters with no length now seemed doomed at Augusta, and Roberts bogeys 10 and 11 to fall out of contention. At the 10th, he flailed a tee shot to the right that was 50 yards (!) behind Tiger’s 3-wood and left him 209 yards (yikes!) to the flag.
10.) As we head to the back nine, we learn this from Nantz: Back home in South Africa, a regular driver for Els has won the lottery. Crazy, huh? 13 million rand (had to look that up), the equivalent of $2 million at the time. Nantz was apparently with Els when he heard the news. “Great day for my friend,” the anchor relays from Els. “Maybe the stars are aligned for me as well.”
11.) Els is still boyish-looking at 30. He’s already won two U.S. Opens and has two Open Championship titles in his future. He’s always considered to have a favorable game for Augusta, and it only seems a matter of time …
12.) Singh will not fold, even if he tries with the putter. He gives himself an eagle putt at 8, but then makes a terrible stroke—“A horrible misjudgment of the line!” exclaims commentator Peter Oostherhuis—but still manages to salvage birdie. Similar bad first putt at 13, same birdie result.
13.) There will be some extraordinary saves, too. At 11, Singh overdrew his approach and went into the pond. After taking minutes to decide on his drop, he hits a deft chip to four feet and saves bogey. At 12, he gets a lucky break when his screaming tee shot kicks out of the azaleas behind the green and into the bunker. A par save keeps him one shot up going into Augusta’s potential birdie stretch.
14.) The 13th is the undoing of Duval. He’s down just by a shot and hammers a great drive to give himself only 195 to the pin, though with the typical hanging lie. He debates the wind and the club way too long. Ken Venturi doesn’t like the indecision. And then Duval does the unthinkable, going straight at the flag after Singh is already safely on in two. The approach is woefully short, splashing into Rae’s Creek. “You can be aggressive, but you can’t fire at that flag!” Venturi laments. “The indecision is what caused it all.”
Duval can’t get up-and-down from the drop area and makes a bogey. “That’s like a double bogey from where he was,” Venturi says. Singh makes birdie after a shaky first putt and heads to 14th tee with three-shot cushion.
15.) There will be a couple more displays of Singh’s fantastic ball-striking. At 15, he drives too far to the left and behind the stand of trees, but fashions a magnificent hook that lands perfectly on a slope that feeds the ball to 15 feet from the hole for eagle. It’s another birdie, and Singh finishes the week nine under on the par 5s.
Of Singh’s long, languid swing, David Feherty delivers a classic: “It’s like watching snow fall off a branch.”
16.) When Els birdies the 15th in front of Singh, he trims the margin to two. But with Singh’s birdie there it’s back to three, and though Els stirs the crowd at 16 by giving himself a legit birdie chance, he can’t convert. The same thing happens at 18, though a photographer’s itchy trigger finger causes Els to back off his first look at a birdie try. In a rare display of being flustered, Els feigns firing his ball at the shooter once he’d putted out.
You know how sadly this ends for Els. He finishes solo second, and over the next 19 years, he’ll only match this result one more time—in 2004’s one-shot defeat to Phil Mickelson.
17.) CBS does some cleanup work with those finishing ahead of the lead groups. Everybody seems disappointed over “El Nino” closing with a 78 in his first Masters as a pro after opening with a 70. Sergio Garcia had been much-hyped early in the week after his duel with Woods seven months earlier in the PGA at Medinah. (We must remember, Sergio has so many more chances ahead of him, and it’ll only take nearly double his lifetime, 17 years, to pull on the green jacket.)
18.) Tom Lehman, looking as much like a regular Joe as anybody could, with his huge Dockers logos on the hat and shirt, and pants that are just a bit too long, finishes with a 69 for solo sixth. The puka shell necklace would have made a strong statement with the green jacket.
19.) Singh finishes with a straight drive and strong iron that settles pin-high at 18, and indicative of how his week has gone, he drains the putt for birdie and lifts his putter to the crowd. Waiting behind the green are Vijay’s wife, Ardena, and son, Qass, and Nantz reminds us of how many hours this threesome has spent on the driving range.
Ardena encouraged Vijay to not fret about his putting during the week. Qass put a note on his bag, “Papa, trust your swing.” It’s a good story, this man from faraway islands grinding his way to possession of a green jacket on golf’s most hallowed ground. It just wasn’t the best golf tale of 2000.
2000 Masters—Final Round Broadcast