Is Jordan Spieth a lock to win? These eight comeback wins prove anything is possible at the Masters
Jordan Spieth might be running away with the Masters after 36 holes, but those chasing have reason to have hope: Eight times in Masters history the winner has come from six shots (or, in the case of Jack Burke Jr., eight shots) back at the midway mark.
Here's how the eight did it:
Horton Smith six back in 1936
After rain canceled play Thursday and Sunday, a 36-hole finale was needed on Monday. That suited Horton Smith just fine. A third-round 68 brought Smith within three and a final-round 72 (when no one in the field broke 70) was enough to propel him to a one-stroke win over Harry "Lighthorse" Cooper and earn Smith his second title in three years.
Jack Burke Jr. eight back in 1956
A birdie on 17 and an up-and-down from the sand on 18 allowed Jack Burke Jr. to fashion the greatest comeback in Masters history. Burke was eight shots back after 36 holes but shot a 75 in the third round to stay eight strokes back of amateur Ken Venturi at the start of the fourth round. Burke fired a 71 (one of only two subpar rounds on the day) in ferocious winds to win by a single stroke, including a crucial up-and-down from a bunker on the 72nd hole.
Art Wall Jr. six back in 1959
A third-round 71 left Art Wall Jr. six back entering Sunday. Wall then caught fire with birdies on five of the last six holes that fueled a dramatic charge as he leapfrogged over a record 12 players to win by one stroke over Cary Middlecoff. Wall's final-round 66 was his first sub-70 round in four Masters. Third-round co-leader Arnold Palmer, looking to become the Masters' first repeat champion, finished two back.
Fuzzy Zoeller six back in 1979
It wasn't so much what Fuzzy Zoeller did (69-70 on the weekend) but what Ed Sneed didn't that led to Zoeller's comeback win. When Sneed, who started the final round with a five-stroke lead, bogeyed the final three holes, he set the stage for the first sudden-death playoff in Masters history. Joining him on the 10th tee were Zoeller and Tom Watson. All three players missed birdie putts of less than 11 feet on the first playoff hole. But Zoeller, presented with a second chance to end it on 11, knocked in his eight-footer for the title. Zoeller became the first golfer to win the Masters in his inaugural appearance since Gene Sarazen in 1935.
Bernhard Langer six back in 1985
Bernhard Langer carded a pair of 68s on the weekend to move from a tie for 25th at the halfway point to the top of the leader board. Despite a closing bogey, Langer fired a final-nine 33 to become the third international winner of the Masters (after Gary Player and Seve Ballesteros). "I thought I won the tournament on the back nine," said Langer, whose 282 total topped Ballesteros, Curtis Strange and Raymond Floyd by two strokes.
Jack Nicklaus six back in 1986
Shooting lower scores each day, Jack Nicklaus saved his best for last. Deadly putting spurred a dazzling final-nine 30 that included an eagle-birdie-birdie stretch on holes 15, 16 and 17. A par on 18 put Nicklaus in the clubhouse with a lead that held off Tom Kite and Greg Norman, each a stroke short. Twenty-three years after his first Masters title, Nicklaus had earned his sixth green coat. "I knew it was coming," Nicklaus said. "I found the fellow I used to be out there today."
Tiger Woods six back in 2005
After opening with a 74, Tiger Woods parred the first hole of his second round then went on a tear that saw him play the next 30 holes in 15 under par, including a Masters record-tieing seven consecutive birdies to close out the run on Nos. 7 through 13 in the third round. Woods began Masters Sunday with 27 holes to play and a four-shot deficit to make up. After completing his third-round 65, Woods held a three-shot lead and appeared to sew up the title with an epic chip-in on the 16th hole for birdie. Then in uncharacteristic fashion for Woods, he bogeyed the last two holes to eventually fall in a playoff with Chris DiMarco. On the first playoff hole, the 18th, Woods' 15-foot birdie putt provided the exclamation point on his ninth major championship and first in 34 months.
Charl Schwartzel six back in 2011
Trailing by six entering the weekend, South African Charl Schwartzel fired a 134 total over the final 36 holes, including a never-before-done run of four consecutive birdies on the final four holes that produced a two-stroke win over Jason Day and Adam Scott.