Every April, the mere sight of pink azaleas and beautiful sun-soaked skies beating down on the vibrant green turf of Augusta National Golf Club is enough to make golf fans flock to their television sets in droves. Add in a few Sunday storylines, something the Masters provides no matter who is on the leader board, and you might as well cancel Christmas. It doesn’t get much better than that.
If you were picking up a Jim Nantz vibe from that lead-in, that was a very astute observation on your part. No one welcomes us all into the broadcast quite like Nantz, especially on Sunday... AT THE MASTERS...when his opening monologues double as poetry that rivals the work of Robert Frost.
Thanks to Augusta National putting the last 50 final-round broadcasts of the Masters on YouTube, we’ve had some time to comb through Nantz’s best and most-syrupy monologues in all their slightly over-dramatic, perfectly pitched glory.
Without further ado, Hello friends, and welcome to our top 10 Nantzian openings of the last 20 years, with the accompanying scripts written exactly as we imagine Nantz would pen them. Enjoy.
No. 10 – 2016
SCENE: After an opening-round 66, Jordan Spieth stumbles in the tough conditions of rounds two and three, posting a 74 and a 73. Yet Spieth still sat alone atop the leader board on Sunday, and even with Dustin Johnson and Jason Day just three back, Nantz put all his Spieth eggs in one basket. Surely, the golden child would repeat.
“The green jacket will be presented at twilight, and it just might be a RARITY at day’s end.
50 years ago JACK NICKLAUS became the first REPEAT CHAMPION in Masters history.
NICK FALDO followed suit in 1989 and ’90!
Then after the turn of the century, along came TIGERRRR with two in a row.
Last April, 21-year-old JORDAN SPIETH captured the WORLD STAGE, going WIRE-TO-WIRE, with one of the EPIC performances in the ANNALS of the sport.
And now a year later, he continues to stand alone at Augusta, SEIZING the lead on Thursday and NEVER letting go.
With 18 holes remaining, he’s on the PRECIPICE of more history, the fourth to go back-to-back, and the youngest to win TWO…GREEN JACKETS.
Today, JORDAN SPIETH could make THE MASTERS his own SPRINGTIME TRADITION.”
Most Nantzian Line: “His own SPRINGTIME TRADITION.”
BOLD Jim, BOLD. For a tournament known for its tradition, Nantz insinuates Spieth winning it regularly will become the newest Masters tradition. We all know what happened next, and don’t worry, Nantz would get his revenge in 2017’s monologue (stay tuned).
Too Syrupy: “One of the EPIC performances in the ANNALS of the sport.”
He used this exact line when Spieth won! Going back to the syrup, well, another bold move.
Nantzian Scale: 3.2 out of 5
This ranks 10th, so we have to start slow. Going all in on Spieth didn’t quite pay off, but the repeat storyline was ultimately the only play Nantz had.
No. 9 – 2009
SCENE: Heading into the final round, the storylines just weren’t quite there. Sure, Kenny Perry could have overtaken Jack as the oldest champion, but it wasn’t going to top 1986. And of course, Angel Cabrera would soon become a Masters legend, but even with a 2007 U.S. Open victory, his storyline didn’t have much pop. No matter, Nantz could rely on the epic Phil-Tiger pairing, despite them both being seven shots back and likely needing the course record to contend.
“Augusta National… an OASIS of career-DEFINING moments. Where all 44 members of the exclusive green jacket club have had a story ... to tell.
It began 75 years ago with Horton Smith, the first winner.
Arnold Palmer was the first with FOUR WINS. Nicklaus made it FIVE, and then SIX, and became the oldest.
Gary Player was the one to take the title internationally. Seve was the one who carried the jacket back to Europe, and was the youngest, until Tiger came along in 1997.
It’s another Sunday at Augusta, whose story is about to be told?
Will it be KENTUCKYIAN Kenny Perry at 48, attempting to be the oldest winner in Masters history?
Angel Cabrera of Argentina seeks South America’s first Augusta conquest. He has a U.S. Open trophy, but would love to grasp hold this time … of a GREEN JACKET.
Phil and Tiger have their first Augusta pairing since 2001 and each are after a first final round come-from-behind major title. Will they awaken the ECHOES down at AMEN CORNER?
Whose story is about to be told … AT THE MASTERS.”
Most Nantzian Line: “It’s another Sunday at Augusta: whose story is about to be told?”
Who knows, but if you’re telling it Jim, we’re all ears.
Too Syrupy: “Augusta National… an OASIS of career-DEFINING moments.”
My pancakes are SWIMMING in syrup. Almost like it’s an OASIS of syrup.
Nantzian Scale: 3.5 out of 5
With not much to work with, Nantz made some decent lemonade out of the lemons he was dealt. And he was almost right about Tiger and Phil, who produced some epic roars … but on Augusta’s front nine that Sunday. Save some echoes for Amen Corner next time you two (hopefully in 2019).
No. 8 – 2004
SCENE: Tied for the lead heading into the final round, would this finally be Phil Mickelson’s time to capture his first major after so many near misses? Nantz wasn’t ready to geek out quite yet, opting to save his energy for the 18th tower. But still, even though more reserved than in other openings, Nantz delivered in succinct fashion.
“Since 1934 every accomplished player in golf has come to the Augusta National LOOKING for an INTRODUCTION into HISTORY.
The MASTERS is the one tournament with a TIMELESS quality, where legends are celebrated.
None more so than Arnold Palmer, who took his final bow Friday.
ERNIE ELS felt its majesty as a young boy, as did England’s upstart, Paul Casey.
They’ll be chasing two Americans, CHRIS DIMARCO, hoping to taste his sweetest victory …
And PHIL MICKELSON, SO close, SO many times, only to find SECOND and SOLACE in the comfort of friends and family.
Today at 18, will the music be reserved for him at LONG LAST? … in the final round … (whispers) of the Masters.”
Most Nantzian Line: “SO close, SO many times, only to find SECOND and SOLACE in the comfort of friends and family.”
Subtle, backhanded dagger from Nantz here. It’s now or never Phil, don’t let us all down (Nantz, specifically).
Too Syrupy: “Today at 18, will the music be reserved for him at LONG LAST?”
Hmmm… wonder if this line came in handy later that afternoon.
Nantzian Scale: 3.8 out of 5
Perhaps he didn’t want to go too all-in on Lefty and ride the emotional roller coaster. So he kept it short and to the point.
No. 7 – 2005
SCENE: After a rain out on Saturday, third-round play resumed Sunday morning, with Tiger Woods finishing off a third-round 65 to grab a three-stroke lead. Chris DiMarco was gunning for his first major once again, could he spoil Woods’ bid at a fourth jacket? Nantz wasn’t counting on it …
“There is a GREEN JACKET awaiting the PERFECT SUITOR at AUGUSTA NATIONAL.
And look who is searching for his first major in three years.
TIGER WOODS faced a rocky start to the Masters that left everyone BAFFLED. But just when things seemed dark, he was BACK on the PROWL with a BREAKOUT weekend performance.
NOW the tournament rests SQUARELY on his shoulders.
CHRIS DIMARCO has seen Augusta magic up close, a PASSENGER a year ago on Phil Mickelson’s journey!
Nearly NAVIGATING his way to his own MAJOR TITLE at the PGA. Can he regroup after falling under the weight of TIGER’S morning glory!? Or will he be walking alongside the winner ONCE AGAIN?
MICKELSON must mount one of the biggest final-round comebacks ever seen at Augusta to EXTEND his REIGN.
TODAY, TIGER WOODS can join ARNOLD PALMER … and JACK NICKLAUS as the only men with four green jackets.
For the 50th year, CBS, with great pride brings you .. (whispers) the Masters.”
Most Nantzian Line: “A PASSENGER a year ago on Phil Mickelson’s journey!”
The years 2004-2005 will forever be remembered as the years of back-to-back opening monologue daggers from Nantz, rather than for Phil’s first win and Tiger’s fourth.
Too Syrupy: “He was BACK on the PROWL.”
Because his name’s Tiger!!
Nantzian Scale: 3.9 out of 5
Overall, considering the events that transpired in both 2004 and 2005 post-monologue, these feel like they came from a subdued version of Nantz. But as I always say, subdued Nantz is better than no Nantz at all.
No. 6 – 2010
SCENE: After a second-round 75, Nantz’s good friend and 1992 Masters winner Fred Couples made a huge move on Saturday, turning back the clock to post a four-under 68. But Phil Mickelson topped him, carding a wild 67 that featured back-to-back eagles at the 13th and 14th holes. Instead of relying too heavily on this dynamic duo, Nantz gave everyone on the leader board their due, setting up for a wild Sunday finish at Augusta.
“It’s golf’s symbol of excellence that began in 1949 with Sam Snead and is part of the very FABRIC of the Augusta National Golf Club.
It’s as much a part of the Masters, as SPRINGTIME.
It’s the green JACKET, and the competition for it has seen the greatest players in the GAME FASHION MAGICAL MOMENTS.
TODAY Tiger Woods will lean on instincts and talent to try and walk away a champion for a fifth time. For a fourth straight day he will share the journey with K.J. Choi. Choi could give South Korea its second straight major.
Fred Couples is adored by his faithful followers, and at 50, could be the oldest Masters winner.
The leader is England’s Lee Westwood, whose been a study this week in UNWAVERING concentration.
But one behind is Phil Mickelson who went EAGLE hunting yesterday and ignited the ROARS at Augusta.
Today, one man will realize a DREAM and become the latest THREAD to all the images that are as TIMELESS as the GREEN JACKET …. AT THE MASTERS.”
Most Nantzian Line: “ . . . Has seen the greatest players in the GAME FASHION MAGICAL MOMENTS.”
Love Nantz channeling his inner fashion designer early in the monologue, weaving and knitting his way through the storylines with graceful precision.
Too Syrupy: “. . .Become the latest THREAD”
Seriously, there’s a strong chance he just plowed through four episodes of Project Runway before writing all this down.
Nantzian Scale: 4.0 out of 5
This began a stretch of some epic opening monologue years from Nantz, and the best was yet to come.
No. 5 – 1998
SCENE: Many believe if all falls into place, the final round of the 2018 Masters could be as exciting as it’s ever been, but 1998’s final-round leader board would like a word. Nantz’s good friend Fred Couples (they went to college together) led through 54 holes, and Mark O’Meara, Phil Mickelson and Paul Azinger were all tied for second, just two back. Five back and still in the hunt were Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus. There is not a shot in hell Nantz got a second of sleep on Saturday night.
“When the sun rose this Easter morning there was TRANQUILITY in AUGUSTA, a GENTLE preamble, that suggested something IMPROBABLE was about to EVOLVE.
Could it be the unthinkable? Can the youthful brilliance of Jack Nicklaus come to life one more time, for ONE LAST encore!?
Could it be another Sunday to remember for Tiger Woods? A year ago he ran away from the field, yesterday his birdie at 18 gave him FAITH for TODAY as he drafts from behind the leaders.
Could it mark the revival of Paul Azinger’s career? Four years ago he battled cancer and CONQUERED it. This week his game and his GAIT have shown he’s BACK.
Could it be the long-awaited day of GLORY for MARK O’MEARA!? He’s been a champion golfer, but never in a professional major.
It’s also the only thing missing from Phil Mickelson’s SPLENDID resume.
Or could it be the reawakening of FRED COUPLES? His pure joy was unmistakable in 1992, but since then there have been hardships along the way. Now he’s back to the place he’s WORSHIPPED since he was a young boy, with a FOCUS and CONFIDENCE at an all-time high.
Who will embrace the GREEN JACKET in the FINAL ROUND … OF THE MASTERS!?!?!”
Most Nantzian Line: “Who will embrace the GREEN JACKET in the FINAL ROUND … OF THE MASTERS!?!?!”
You can truly hear the sheer excitement in Nantz’s voice when he delivers this line. Like a kid in a candy store, except all the different types of candy are STORYLINES.
Too Syrupy: “There was TRANQUILITY in AUGUSTA, a GENTLE preamble, that suggested something IMPROBABLE was about to EVOLVE.”
Most of us have five senses. Nantz has six, the last being the ability to sniff out a Sunday charge at Augusta before it even occurs.
Nantzian Scale: 4.3 out of 5
What was particularly impressive about this one was that even though Jack was five back, Nantz couldn’t resist, and likely added the Nicklaus story line prior to his early-round Sunday charge. It paid off even though Jack couldn’t rekindle the 1986 magic on the final stretch.
No. 4 – 2008
SCENE: Similar to 2009, there was a dearth of Nantzian storylines heading into Sunday. Both Trevor Immelman and Brandt Snedeker would go on to have fine PGA Tour careers, but there’s certainly been more electric final pairings in the final round of the Masters. What would Nantz do? Tiger was six back, Phil nine back, and the second-to-last group? Steve Flesch and Paul Casey. Woof. Never fear, Nantz is here, and he played the Father-Son card, stealing the U.S. Open’s Father’s Day theme a full two months before Tiger’s win at Torrey. Savage.
“Every champion golfer comes to Augusta IMBUED with a TOWERING source of INSPIRATION.
It’s a solitary journey, but it’s one that no player … makes alone.
For a boy from Atlanta, his greatness was achieved with the COMFORTING GUIDANCE of Colonel Robert Jones.
A little boy from Latrobe, Pennsylvania lived out the VISION of a man named DEACON.
Charlie Nicklaus’ last words to his boy Jack ‘Son, don’t think it ain’t been charming.’
Tiger took an IMPROBABLE dream imagined first by his father, and delivered to his dad a perfectly-authored script that is still being written.
AUGUSTA has celebrated the careers of almost every legendary name the game has ever produced. GENERATIONS defined by those who won the Masters.
FATHERS forever remembered, and SONS, who are now FATHERS. It’s simply the CIRCLE OF LIFE at AUGUSTA.
On this Masters Sunday you can see the PRIDE in a FATHER’s eyes. Larry Snedeker’s BOY BRANDT could be walking in the green jacket footsteps of his golf hero, TOM WATSON.
Johan Immelman no doubt is feeling those same EMOTIONS as his son Trevor tries to follow the same path as his boyhood idol and fellow countryman, GARY PLAYER.
Bobby Jones built the foundation, a JOURNEY born in the heart from a father to a son, always ... by their side.”
Most Nantzian Line: “It’s a solitary journey, but it’s one that no player … makes alone.”
Jim Nantz is the one guy in the world who can contradict himself in the same sentence and it makes complete sense.
Too Syrupy: “It’s simply the CIRCLE OF LIFE at AUGUSTA.”
Move over “The Lion King,” the real circle of life happens every April in Georgia. Would you believe me if I said this won’t be the last time “The Lion King” is referenced on this list? Oh, just wait..
Nantzian Scale: 4.5 out of 5
Considering the top seven players on the final leader board shot a combined 14 over par in the final round, the best part of Sunday at the Masters might just have been Nantz’s opening, which no doubt led to thousands of father/son living room hugs prior to the coverage.
No. 3 – 1999
SCENE: Despite Spain’s Jose Maria Olazabal holding the solo 54-hole lead, the story was Greg Norman, still in search of his first green jacket after so many close calls. Nantz made sure to hammer this so hard over our heads that he left us all with CTE. Also, THE LION KING THEME SONG PLAYED OVER THE OPENING!! I’M NOT KIDDING.
“The dreams of champions have often been realized in the GARDEN of AUGUSTA.
But one dream harbored half a world away has never made the successful journey from where it began to where it ends. From Australia.. to AUGUSTA.
In 1981 Greg Norman finished fourth in his first Masters. Clearly, the green jacket was not far away. He could have won in 1986, but a final hole bogey left him one behind his boyhood idol, JACK NICKLAUS.
He should have won the following year, but fell this time to a Larry Mize MIRACLE. What was HAPPENING to the dream!? And then, there was 1996, where he CRUMBLED to the SUFFOCATING pressure and the UNRELENTING Nick Faldo. The dream was all but shattered.
One could only wonder if one day he would get one last shot to DEFEAT adversity and EVEN the match with FATE.
Today Greg Norman arrived on the grounds at Augusta facing perhaps the round that will define his LEGACY, but there are others with that same QUEST.. ERNIE ELS, LEE JANZEN, DAVIS LOVE III, JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL.
Is this the day GREG NORMAN at last, wears the GREEN JACKET!?”
Most Nantzian Line: This is the toughest choice on this entire list, but I have to go with “EVEN the match with FATE.”
Sure, playing the field and the golf course itself are hard, but try facing off with Nantz’s imaginary match against fate. Good luck Greg!
Too Syrupy: “The SUFFOCATING pressure and the UNRELENTING Nick Faldo.”
Strangely enough, this is how many of us feel every time Faldo talks during a broadcast. Talk about UNRELENTING.
Nantzian Scale: 4.6 out of 5
While ultimately Nantz’s script didn’t play out, “The Lion King” theme song cannot be overlooked here. If only Norman had won and worn the green jacket at the top of Pride Rock.
No. 2 – 2012
SCENE: With the final round set for Easter Sunday, Nantz expertly paints the canvas for what was to come on Sunday, but not just any Sunday, Easter Sunday … AT THE MASTERS. EASTER!!!!
“The GREEN jacket and AUGUSTA National went from IMAGINATION to REALITY thanks to one Grand Slam champion who found a double stand of magnolias, TOWERING pines and a PERFECT PALATE for a CANVAS that seemed to be waiting for golf’s ultimate test of artistry to be CONSTRUCTED.
It was a dormant nursey when BOB JONES purchased it in 1931 and then came back to life when he collaborated with Scotsmen Alister Mackenzie.
A STAGE created that through the PASSAGE OF TIME has delivered COUNTLESS STROKES ... OF GENIUS.
CHAMPION GOLFERS who have ETCHED their name in history where the primary color ... IS GREEN.
The sport’s most dominant champion, JACK NICKLAUS, won a record SIX green jackets.
Arnold Palmer claimed FOUR, a number MATCHED ... BY TIGER WOODS.
NOW, Phil Mickelson could draw NEAR Nicklaus and join Palmer and Woods with FOUR of his own, giving Augusta its most decorated foursome … OF CHAMPIONS.
A win today will be another DROP in history …. AT THE MASTERS.”
Most Nantzian Line: “A PERFECT PALATE for a CANVAS that seemed to be waiting for golf’s ultimate test of artistry to be CONSTRUCTED.”
Easter vibes through the roof. Screw watching golf, let’s paint some damn eggs!
Too Syrupy: “CHAMPION GOLFERS who have ETCHED their name in history where the primary color ... IS GREEN.”
Sometimes, the syrup is so good that you need more of it. This was one of those times.
Nantzian Scale: 4.8 out of 5
Had Phil gone on to win, this one would be drowning in thousands of Nantz ties in every single color imaginable. The artsy, colorful Easter-theme still made it an all-timer, though.
No. 1 – 2017
SCENE: It’s the eve of the final round, and there are so many potential storylines Nantz’s head might explode from attempting to fit them all in the opening monologue. But folks, there’s a reason he’s got a house at Pebble Beach with an f-ing replica of Pebble’s 7th hole in his backyard. It’s moments like these that only Nantz can seize, and he absolutely OWNED this one.
“The stories this Masters Sunday are as MAJESTIC as MAGNOLIA LANE, some more POIGNANT than others, but each a tale of VALIDATION.
A year ago, JORDAN SPIETH nearly repeated, until an unexpected CALAMITY at AMEN CORNER left him presenting the green jacket to Danny Willett.
And NOW, another Englishman is ready to match GREEN with GOLD. Justin Rose is looking to add another major TITLE to his U.S. Open CONQUEST!
Rickie FOWLER is golf’s popstar sensation, with his flashy attire and charisma, but with a game that is better than the SWAGGER, and is only missing a MAJOR.
And THEN, there is Sergio Garcia, in the mold of his country’s golfing hero, the late Seve Ballesteros, who would have turned 60 on this very day. A SERGIO VICTORY would not only be a breakthrough, but a TRIBUTE.
VICTORY … and VALIDATION. It’s the final round … OF THE MASTERS.”
Most Nantzian Line: “An unexpected CALAMITY at AMEN CORNER.”
Hey Spieth, welcome to Nantz’s thunderdome. You think he forgot you botched his green jacket repeat storyline from 2016? Think again. CALAMITY, what happened at Amen Corner was a freakin’ CALAMITY I tell you!!
Too Syrupy: “Match GREEN with GOLD.”
Trying to capture some of the colorful magic of No. 2 on our list, the 2012 Easter monologue, but the mentioning of that damn gold medal if Rose so much as breathes these days is getting to be a bit much.
Nantzian Scale: 5 out of 5
He truly knocked this one out of the park, not to mention he ended the monologue with Sergio, who later delivered on that TRIBUTE to SEVE. Call it recency bias, but this was Nantz’s Mona Lisa. Just imagine if Tiger had been in contention… he might have ODed on storylines.