RBC Heritage

Harbour Town Golf Links

Master Of His Craft

Masters 2023: A proper ranking of every final-putt call by Jim Nantz at Augusta National

/content/dam/images/golfdigest/fullset/2020/11/jim nantz tiger woods butler cabin.jpeg

A few years back, we ranked our 10 favorite syrupy opening monologues by Jim Nantz at the Masters. The ones that kick off the final-round broadcast, setting the mood for what is always an epic day at Augusta National. Nobody does them quite like Nantz, the legendary broadcaster often finding a way to make you laugh, think and cry, Jim Valvano-style, before we even see a shot struck.

But, much like in golf, other sports and life in general, it’s not about how you start, it’s about how you finish. Naturally, Nantz can also finish with the best of them. Even when Masters Sunday doesn’t give him a ton to work with, the 63-year-old still manages to sum up the winner’s week with a banger of a line (or two). Below, we rank all 28 of Nantz’s final-putt calls at Augusta, from “can’t blame him for being low-energy on that one” to “a GOAT at work.”

Note: None of these are bad. That’s the magic of Nantz. Even if it’s a four-shot victory by a guy nobody really wanted to win, Nantz generally still knocks it out of the park. Also, there will be tiers. Oh yes, there will be tiers.

The “winner finished much earlier than the final groups, so there sort of wasn’t a final-putt call?” tier

No. 28

The year: 2016

The winner: Danny Willett

The call: “????” Ian Baker-Finch called it?

The take: Willett, a first-time major winner, finished much earlier than Jordan Spieth, who was running away with it when he made the turn with a five-shot lead. We all know what happened next, Spieth choking it away at the par-3 12th and Willett making a back-nine charge that would eventually win him the tournament. Unfortunately, it was too early to call when Willett putted out for a final-round 67. It became somewhat official when Spieth made bogey on the 17th, which led to Ian Baker-Finch kinda, sorta announcing the Englishman as the winner. Strange year, strange ending, no true Nantz finishing call, probably should have left it out entirely but whatever. Fortunately, this was a rare case.

No. 27

The year: 2007

The winner: Zach Johnson

The call: “The 2007 Masters winner … is Zach Johnson!”

The take: Like with Willett’s victory, Johnson finished up a Sunday 69 a bit earlier than the final few twosomes. His victory was not secure until Tiger Woods failed to hole out for eagle in the 18th fairway, which led to a somewhat anticlimactic and “meh” call from Nantz. Again though, like with Willett, this was an outlier.

The “low-energy, but it’s not Jim’s fault” tier

No. 26

The year: 2008

The winner: Trevor Immelman

The call: “Let’s see if he can create one last memory … it’ll be good enough. Golf has a new major champion.”

The take: Any time somebody has a three-shot lead coming down the 72nd, chances are the call isn’t going to be anything to write home about. “Golf has a new major champion” is about as generic as it gets. White bread, and not toasted, like Jim likes it.

No. 25

The year: 2009

The winner: Angel Cabrera

The call: “Cabrera…takes the green jacket!”

The take: Honestly not even sure why I put an exclamation point, because it didn’t feel like Jim was exclaiming it. This was a tough one, because Sunday in 2009 was one of the more electric Masters Sundays I can recall with Phil and Tiger going at it on the front nine, then Kenny Perry and Angel Cabrera dueling it out down the stretch. Mix in Perry’s bogey-bogey meltdown on the final two holes, which helped Chad Campbell join a three-way playoff with Perry and Cabrera, and you had the makings of a Masters Mount Rushmore finish. Then, it fell pretty flat in the playoff, Campbell bowing out on the first-hole of sudden death (the 18th) and Perry making a mess of the second hole of sudden death (the 10th), allowing Cabrera two putts for the win. After the Argentinian’s tap-in, Nantz, likely aware we were robbed of a truly special finish, kept it short and sweet.

No. 24

The year: 2020

The winner: Dustin Johnson

The call: “The long-awaited Masters has a long-awaited champion in Dustin Johnson!”

The take: Let’s be honest, the COVID year was not worthy of a truly epic Nantz call. There were barely any patrons and DJ made it boring with a five-shot victory. Still a creative call, but not oozing with POP.

No. 23

The year: 2002

The winner: Tiger Woods

The call: “Well, it’s the year of the Tiger again at Augusta.”

The take: You’re probably thinking how could any Tiger victory be ranked so low. Probably because this one was never really close on the back nine, Woods pulling away to eventually win by three for what was his fifth major victory in the last eight majors. And that’s the other reason—he was so dominant during this period that it was almost becoming expected. Nantz did the best he could with the snoozy (in a good way) outcome.

No. 22

The year: 2003

The winner: Mike Weir

The call: “A green jacket is going north of the border. Mike Weir has won the Masters.”

The take: A more-than-solid call, but, similar to Cabrera in 2009, this wasn’t the best ending despite ending in a playoff. Mike Weir won with a bogey 5, as Len Mattiace, after putting together a scintillating Sunday 65, promptly stumbled on the first and only playoff hole, which happened to be the 10th at the time.

The “straight facts, homie” tier

No. 21

The year: 1995

The winner: Ben Crenshaw

The call: “Ben Crenshaw … has won the Masters … for a second time.”

The take: This was Nantz’s first official “final-putt” call, and like the pro he already was, he stayed out of the way and went the facts-only route. This was a man who knew he’d be coming back to Augusta for a long time and didn’t want to come out guns blazing, Gus Johnson-style, for his very first winning call. Chess, not checkers. That said, you’ve got to love the little pauses in between each fragment. “Ben Crenshaw” *breath* “has won the Masters” *breath* “for a second time” *breath*. Those tiny pauses would soon become a staple of many a Nantzian final call.

No. 20

The year: 2021

The winner: Hideki Matsuyama

The call: “Matsuyama is Japan’s FIRST Masters champion.”

The take: A special moment for Japan, which Nantz summed up in a calm, cool, collective manner. With Matsuyama having two very short putts to win on the final hole, that’s all the moment required.

No. 19

The year: 1996

The winner: Nick Faldo

The call: “Thought he had to shoot 67 today … He got it! Nick Faldo … has won the Masters! … For the third time!”

The take: Greg Norman’s choke was so bad that his six-shot lead to begin the day turned into a five-shot defeat at the hands of Nantz’s future partner, Nick Faldo. Didn’t make for an electric ending, but a final-putt birdie by Faldo to cap off a 67 certainly livened Nantz’s mood.

No. 18

The year: 2014

The winner: Bubba Watson

The call: “About the same length he had to close it out in 2012, he lined it up back then as well. WATSON … wins another green jacket at Augusta!

The take: While it was nice to see Bubba get another, Nantz captured what we we’re all feeling at the time—man, this Spieth kid could have won that thing. Of course, Jordy rectified that the following year, leading to a highly-ranked call on this list.

No. 17

The year: 1998

The winner: Mark O’Meara


The take: Excluding 1997, this was Nantz’s first real “final putt to win” call, and he freaking slam-dunked it. It would be way higher if not for the factual manner of the call, which has slotted it in the facts only tier. But it’s by far the No. 1 in this tier. Hard to screw that one up, of course, but still worthy of a nice hat tip.

The “OK, now he’s cooking” tier

No. 16

The year: 2022

The winner: Scottie Scheffler

The call: “SCHEFFLER outshines them all at Augusta!”

The take: A runaway victory in the fading sun, hence the “outshines.” We see you, Jim. Even in recent blowouts, he’s found a way to make the calls unique.

No. 15

The year: 1999

The winner: Jose Maria Olazabal

The call: “UnFLAPPable. Olazabal has a second green jacket.”

The take: Loved the accentuation in unFLAPPable. The more of these Nantz did, the more he learned which parts of words and names to truly annunciate. Evidently, he was just getting started with JMO’s second green jacket.

No. 14

The year: 2006

The winner: Phil Mickelson

The call: “It’ll be his only bogey of the day, but of little concern, because LOOK who’s on top of the world of golf. Phil Mickelson…the champion…2006 at Augusta!”

The take: The forgotten Mickelson Masters, which is to say, the one he made us sweat the least, was never going to be on par with his first or his most recent. But Nantz still gave him his due with the “LOOK who is on top of the world of golf” line, which, actually, wasn’t correct. Somehow, Lefty did not overtake Tiger Woods for the top spot in the Official World Golf Ranking, likely because Woods tied for third that week. Still, hard to fathom considering he had just won back-to-back majors, and had won the event before the 2006 Masters. It definitely felt like he was on top of the world of golf, so Nantz’s instinct was on point.

No. 13

The year: 2005

The winner: Tiger Woods

The call: “Look OUT! What a finish! Number FOUR for Tiger!”

The take: The memorable call from 2005, unfortunately for Nantz’s sake, did not come from Nantz. That belonged to the great Verne Lundqvist, who was gifted with a top-two moment in Masters history (and it ain’t two) at the par-3 16th when Tiger Woods’ chip for birdie hung on the lip for what felt like an eternity and finally dropped. “Ohhhh my GOODNESS ... WOW! In YOUR LIFE have you seen anything like that?” Everything that happened after that was gravy, but thanks to Woods, Nantz still put together a great call when the 15-time major champ poured in a lengthy one for birdie on the first hole of sudden death, the 18th, to defeat Chris DiMarco.

No. 12

The year: 2011

The winner: Charl Schwartzel

The call: “He’s two putts from victory … ONLY NEEDS ONE! CHARL SCHWARTZEL, takes the Masters, 2011!”

The take: A shocking Rory collapse paved the way for a back nine full of fireworks, capped off by the unknown South African’s incredible closing stretch. Schwartzel removed some of the suspense at the end, but that was nothing a birdie-he-didn’t-even-need couldn’t fix, and Nantz nailed the call. It’s so hard to get these right knowing that the likely outcome is a boring tap-in, which requires a more subdued call. But Nantz is quick on his feet, and he called a Peyton Manning-esque audible with the “ONLY NEEDS ONE!” line here.

No. 11

The year: 2000

The winner: Vijay Singh

The call: “It’s a small world Kenny, it really is. All you have to do is look at Vijay Singh. From Fiji, to Georgia. Vijay has conquered all and he’s won a second major. A first green jacket.”

The take: Removing 1997 from the equation, this was the first time Nantz was truly cooking. He loves a good “from [insert place player came from] to [insert place player is now]!” FIJI to GEORgia is as good as it gets when it comes to that style of call.

The “A GOAT at work. Nantz is in his bag” tier

No. 10

The year: 2013

The winner: Adam Scott

The call: “THERE IT IS! ADAM SCOTT! A life-changer!”

The take: Nothing more needed to be said. The man with arguably the most beautiful swing in golf finally got over the finish line, and it was a literal life-changer, with Scott becoming the first and only Australian to wear a green jacket. He’s now a legend for life, something that appeared to be in doubt when he gagged away the 2012 Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St Annes.

No. 9

The year: 2012

The winner: Bubba Watson

The call: “Another Watson is wearing a green jacket at Augusta! And this TIME, his name is BUBBA!”

The take: The name Bubba > the name Tom. It’s science.

No. 8

The year: 2018

The winner: Patrick Reed

The call: “Will it be his life-changing moment? Yes it will! Captain America CAPTURES Augusta!”

The take: If not for everyone’s blind hatred of Reed, I’d have made this higher. C’mon, this is damn good. Maybe I’m just a sucker for some alliteration.

No. 7

The year: 2017

The winner: Sergio Garcia

The call: “And after soooo many years, ONCE AND FOR ALL FOR SERGIO!”

The take: This is why he’s the king. He captures a man’s entire career, his entire life’s work, in just 11 words. FINALLY, Sergio did it.

No. 6

The year: 2015

The winner: Jordan Spieth

The call: “One of the EPIC performances in the ANNALS of the sport.”

The take: You can’t shout the word ANNALS without immature idiots like myself laughing … unless you’re Jim Nantz. Just a perfect summation of Jordan Spieth’s performance that week. Truly epic, will go down in the history books. Annals sounds way better than history books, though.

No. 5

The year: 2010

The winner: Phil Mickelson

The call: “That’s a win for the family!”

The take: With everything going on with Phil’s wife Amy at the time and with Amy and the kids on hand, this was the only way to describe Mickelson’s third green jacket. The first was the one that got the monkey off his back, the second was the one that proved he was on the path to all-time greatness, and the third was for the fam.

No. 4

The year: 2001

The winner: Tiger Woods

The call: “There it is … as GRAND as it GETS!”

The take: A fitting call for Woods’ fourth consecutive major title, AKA the "Tiger Slam.” Not quite the true grand slam as Woods won the final three the year prior and then the first of 2001, but he still held all four at the same damn time. If that ain’t grand, I’m not sure what is.

No. 3

The year: 2019

The winner: Tiger Woods

The call: “Many doubted we’d ever see it, but here it is. THE RETURN TO GLORY!”

The take: And by many, Nantz really meant all of us. Combine the call with Woods’ two fists raised in the air and a mighty roar from the Big Cat and it might as well be Shaq and Kobe in their prime. Two GOATs at work. Both very much in their bag.

No. 2

The year: 1997

The winner: Tiger Woods

The call: “There it is … A win for the ages!”

The take: You thought this was No. 1, didn’t you? Let’s call it 1B as to not ruffle any feathers. But sorry, there is no greater Nantz call than the one below…

No. 1

The year: 2004

The winner: Phil Mickelson

The call: “Is it his time?! YES! AT LONG LAST!!!”

The take: The perfect storm of things that had to occur to lead to this moment is why it is by far the No. 1 Nantz final-putt call at the Masters. Yes, “A win for the ages” will continue to stand the test of time, but the blowout factor robs it of that extra luster. Mickelson burying a literal final putt to win his first major cannot be topped, especially when Nantz chimed it with the brilliantly-timed “is it his time?” Imagine that doesn’t go in? Nantz likely goes silent, allows Lefty to tap in, and we go to a playoff, which, if you’ve read this entire list, you know Masters playoffs are often unexciting an anticlimactic. No disrespect to Ernie Els, but thank goodness that wasn’t the case here. Mickelson’s putt caught the lip, fell in, and Nantz delivered his Mona Lisa. 10 out of 10. No notes (except for all those notes I just wrote).