23 things you might not remember from the final round of the 2001 Masters
This is the fifth 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 2001 Masters produced one of the most inevitable—yet, still amazing—results in the history of sports. There was no way the Golf Gods, Greek Gods or any other spiritual being was going to keep Tiger Woods from winning a fourth consecutive major. But for most of that Sunday, it somehow looked like two mere mortals, who also happened to be two of golf’s biggest names, might stop this coronation.
Of course, they didn’t. But David Duval and Phil Mickelson certainly added drama to one of the game’s grandest accomplishments—even if it technically wasn’t the Grand Slam. Anyone who witnessed what came to be known as the Tiger Slam will certainly never forget it. That being said, as a freshman in college watching on a 20-inch screen with two roommates upset I was interrupting their continuous FIFA battle, I don’t remember too many details from that day. In other words, it was nice to watch it again. Here’s what stood out this time around.
1.) Jim Nantz kicks off the coverage by saying, “The final round of the 2001 Masters is underway and the gladiatorial arrival of Tiger Woods at the first tee about one hour ago.” One HOUR ago? As my colleague, Chris Powers, has pointed out in previous Masters Rewatches, the CBS window starting well after the final pairing was underway is how it used to be, but man, is that tough to get used to. Anyway, Nantz & Co. gets fans caught up by first showing Angel Cabrera(!) knock one to kick-in range on No. 1 and Woods punching out from the left trees on the same hole and making a bogey. This gladiator had a serious battle on his hands!
2.) Today’s Golf Twitter would bemoan all the highlights being shown instead of live golf, but again, CBS had a lot to catch fans up on considering the 4 p.m. start time. How did we survive before streaming coverage?! David Duval is shown birdieing the sixth hole to move within one, prompting Nantz to say, “It’s a leader board, if you follow golf closely, it’s almost hard to believe. They have all peaked at this time.” Check it out for yourself:
Are you not entertained?!
3.) The first live shot is Duval putting for birdie from 20 feet on No. 7 and … BANG! Another one! Oh, baby, we’re in for a classic. Double D was still looking for his first (and only) major after coming so close kinda blowing the 1998 Masters, but he was ranked No. 2 in the world and now he was tied for the lead with Woods and Phil Mickelson. Was it his time?! Nope.
4.) Was it Phil Mickelson’s time?! Nope. Not yet. It’s crazy to think this was still three years before Mickelson would claim his first major at Augusta National. (I was a senior in college by then and had found a better crew to watch golf with.) It’s also crazy to see golf’s ultimate pitchman pitching totally different companies like Titleist and Boss (how stylish!). Anyway, they show him live first on No. 6, and after Nantz builds him up, he promptly bricks a three-footer for par, which, sorry, Phil, is not so crazy.
5.) Probably should have mentioned this earlier, but Woods is Mickelson’s playing partner in the final pairing. Can you imagine if this happened now?! Of course, that would require golf actually being played again, so it’s particularly tough to imagine now, but you get the point. TIGER AND PHIL! In the final pairing at the Masters?! It would be bedlam. Anyway, Woods makes a not-so-remarkable two-putt par on No. 6 to remain tied for the lead after making what Nantz calls a “remarkable” par save on No. 5. We’ll just have to take Jim’s word for it, though, because it wasn’t part of the coverage window.
6.) I promise not to go hole-by-hole here, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how different No. 7 played then. At 365 yards, players like Tiger and Phil just bombed drivers past all the trouble to leave short approach shots. Very short approach shots. Mickelson only had 58 yards for his second and Tiger had 48! Just a bit different from the current 450-yarder that players usually lay back on because of how tight the landing area is. Also different? The Sunday pin, which isn’t in the front-right collection area we’ve gotten used to in recent years. I like the new pin better because it produces more FIREWORKS. That being said, Duval, Mickelson, and Woods—who added a stylish side-step—all birdied it. Oh, and Mark Calcavecchia. Let’s talk about him for a second …
7.) As Nantz noted during the telecast, Calc had set the PGA Tour 72-hole scoring record just a couple months before in Phoenix and the man who also holds the record for consecutive birdies looked like he was about to get on another heater. He birdied 7 and 8 and then looked to birdie 9, but raised his putter in celebration prematurely. Apparently, only Jack Nicklaus is allowed to do that round these parts. Later, Calc also nearly holed a Larry Mize-esque pitch shot on No. 11, but those close calls, plus costly bogeys on 13 and 14 kept him from finishing better than tied for fourth. Tied with …
8.) Toshimitsu Izawa? Say what? It was a backdoor top five so he didn’t get much air time, but the Izawa’s Sunday 67 vaulted him up the leader board. The 16-time Japan Tour winner was a runner-up (along with Brandel Chamblee) at Riviera earlier in the year, but he missed the cut in his three other trips to Augusta National. Anyway, good for him. I definitely didn’t remember that.
9.) Duval drains a long birdie putt on No. 10 and suddenly he’s tied for the lead again at 14 under. That’s his seventh birdie in his first 10 holes. What a freaking flamethrower. How did this guy not win more majors?
10.) You know how you need some good breaks to go your way to win a golf tournament, let alone a major? Well, Woods got a couple on back-to-back holes at Nos. 9 and 10. On 9, his short approach looked destined to spin way down the hill, but it hung up, giving him an easier up and down. And on 10, his long approach took a soft bounce and stayed in the fringe, allowing him to two-putt for another par. Phew.
11.) Tiger didn’t need any good breaks on No. 11, finding the fairway with his drive and then nearly holing his approach for the shot of the day and the tournament. Jim Nantz sounded like he nearly jumped out of the 18th tower: “And he’s pulled it right at the hole, LOOK OUT! Was that any good?” The ROARS were out in full force on that one. Meanwhile, Mickelson makes bogey to fall three shots back.
12.) Vijay Singh wraps up a respectable title defense with a birdie on No. 18 to finish T-18. He’s also wearing a red shirt just like the guy he’ll be slipping the green jacket on in a couple hours. Was this another “Tiger Who?” message?
Eh, probably not.
13.) Augusta National’s easiest hole, No. 13, may have proved to be the difference in the tournament. Both Duval and Woods hit the par 5 in two, but Duval three-putted from a more difficult spot while Woods made a much-needed birdie after bogeying No. 12. As Nantz points out, the 13th has been a “mental hurdle” for Duval, who played conservatively after finding Rae’s Creek on his approach the day before and in the final round the previous year. What a great hole. Augusta National really wants to change it?
14.) The 16th hole was pretty pivotal as well. First, Duval stares down his shot, but he NUKED it! It flies over the green and into a spot you rarely see anyone. From there, he hits a beautiful bump and run to about eight feet, but misses the putt to fall out of a tie for the lead. Yep, Tiger was still tied for the lead that late on that Sunday. Incredible. Minutes later, Mickelson leaves his approach on the top shelf and three-putts for a bogey of his own. Cue the “Tiger didn’t win! Others lost!” people. Meanwhile, Woods didn’t provide the dramatics we’ve seen from him in 2005 and 2019, but a two-putt par is all he needed to maintain his one-shot lead.
15.) Speaking of Tiger, on the 15th tee, he stops mid-swing as he has been known to throughout his career. Caddie Steve Williams yells at the patrons to “PUT THE CAMERAS AWAY!” (Vintage Stevie!) and Tiger glares at the gallery. “That was a stare that would stop a clock,” a beardless David Feherty says. Woods wasn’t flashing any smiles on the green either when, shockingly, after two fantastic shots, he three-putts from about 18 feet. Maybe it wasn’t meant to be?! No, it was. As already mentioned, Duval and Mickelson both botched No. 16 to give Woods a cushion. And Duval wasn’t done posting disappointing scores …
16.) On 17, Duval hit his approach to 10 feet, and … misses. But on 18, he hit his approach from only 101 yards to six feet … drama! “That’s the game plan right there,” Ken Venturi says. “And he’s in the game!” Nantz replies. The CBS 18th tower tandem was COOKING! Too bad Duval’s putter wasn’t. He missed a third straight from inside of 10 feet and Venturi was still stunned minutes later. “I can’t forget about that putt,” he said. “I will tomorrow, but I know he won’t.” Moments later, Nantz says Duval declined to do an interview. Tough.
17.) Also tough? At the time of this post, this video had fewer than 1 million views on YouTube. It also had 269 dislikes. Both of those numbers make absolutely no sense. When you combine history and drama, this has to be in the top five of watchable Masters. Easily. What’s wrong with people?!
18.) Anyway, as Tiger makes his way up the 17th fairway, Nantz notes Earl Woods is in Augusta, but hasn’t come to the course this week because he didn’t want to be a distraction. That’s disappointing, considering their famous embrace following Woods’ landmark Masters win in 1997. Tiger’s mother, Tida, is in attendance, of course. That woman is an incredible walker even to this day. Tiger got a little loose with his approach shot and it rolled off the front-right part of the green, but he nearly chipped in, settling for par to maintain his one-shot lead over Duval and two-shot lead over Mickelson. A par on 18 would get the job done. This is really going to happen!
19.) Remember that famous Sports Illustrated cover of Tiger teeing off on No. 18 with the headline "MASTERPIECE"? Well, this was it. And my word, did Tiger smoke his tee shot. In fact, he only had 78 yards in! (No wonder Augusta National keeps having to lengthen the course.) This would be a pitch-and-putt to guys now.
20.) Tiger flips a little lob wedge onto the middle of the green and the coronation is on. “Here comes the salute to an achievement that’s about to be completed unlike anything this sport has ever seen,” Nantz says. And wait? Guess what? Earl is there! Yes!
21.) Tiger only needs a two-putt for a fourth consecutive major, but of course, he goes ahead and rolls in the birdie to win by two. Cue Nantz as the ball begins its final tumble: “There it is... as GRAND AS IT GETS!” Perfect. Venturi adds, “I think it’s the greatest feat I’ve ever known in all of sports.” Woods had won four consecutive majors, an astonishing fact that really can’t be said enough. FOUR majors in a row! FOUR! That’s one less major than Mickelson has won in his entire career! Remarkable.
22.) Back to Mickelson, he still had a chance to make some history of his own. Had his birdie attempt from a similar spot dropped, he would have been the first player to shoot four rounds in the 60s. Oh well. By the way, he and Woods didn’t share a long embrace when it was over. But Woods had a great hug with Stevie. And then with Earl. And then Tida. And then Butch Harmon before Woods went in to sign his card. Venturi says all he can think about is Roberto de Vicenzo as Woods signs this card. Not now, Ken!
23.) After having the green jacket slipped on by Vijay Singh (Tiger refers to him as “VIJ,” obviously) in Butler Cabin, Tiger is asked by Nantz to rank where his historic accomplishment stands. “I don’t think it’s right for me to comment on that,” Woods answers. “I will say it will probably go down as one of the top moments in our sport. And I’m very proud of the accomplishments I’ve been able to have in my short career.” Amazingly, in that short career Woods already had six majors, including two green jackets. He also had a pretty mean widow’s peak working at 25. Of course, that was just about the only indication this seemingly unstoppable force was human.
2001 Masters—Final Round Broadcast