The 13 best "B characters" in Masters history
Nicklaus, Palmer, Player, Phil. A guy named Woods. The Masters are synonymous with star power. It's where the world's best golfers play the world's best golf, and not because of some weird cosmic coincidence, but because the stage, the stakes, and the history DEMAND it. But while the big names make the big news at Augusta National year-in, year-out (most of the time, sorry Mr. Willett), it's the colorful, quirky, and often downright unbelievable cast of B characters that help to make the tradition unlike any other, well, unlike any other. So without further ado, we present the 13 best B characters in Masters history. You may not remember them, but they are anything but forgotten.
What were the Masters like before Dave Loggins? Can anyone even remember? Inspired by a visit to Augusta National in 1981, Kenny’s lesser-known cousin conjured up “Augusta,” one of the most enduring theme songs in sports. Sure, it’s no “Danger Zone,” but it has set the stage for every Masters since 1982, and that counts for something (also, did you know there were lyrics? Karaoke here we come.)
At Augusta National, two substances reign supreme: Pine straw and pimento cheese. The former belongs to ol’ mother nature, but the latter to an Aiken, South Carolina man named Nick Rangos, who first concocted the famed ANGC pimento cheese sandwich back in the mid 1970s. Rangos continued producing the mystery mixture all the way up until 2003, but when Masters organizers announced plans to switch to Wife Saver for their sandwich production, Rangos took his secret recipe with him.
John Daly’s RV
What if we told you that every year a man built like a beer keg with a shock of bleach blonde hair taped to the top posted up in his RV in the Augusta National parking lot, autographing bosoms and butts aplenty while schilling unlicensed merchandise to enthralled golf fans from around the planet? What if we told that man was a former major winner? OK, so maybe Big John’s Traveling Road Show isn’t as carefully manicured as the rest of Augusta National, but it's just as essential as the azaleas.
Gary Nicklaus Jr.
Sure, Jack Nicklaus has six green jackets to his name, but the actual most impressive feat by a Nicklaus at the Masters belongs to his grandson "GT," who on the final hole of the 2018 Par-3 Contest, clad in full caddy white, reeled in this immaculate ace with his grandfather watching on. An emotional Jack would later tell Tom Rinaldi it was his “number one” Masters memory ever. Whether or not that’s true, we’ll never know, but there’s no doubt that the moment will live on in Masters lore forever . . . or at least until the next generation of Nicklauses play through.
A bear, err, Tiger-hug for the ages. What more needs to be said?
While the number one priority of every pro playing the weekend at the Masters has to be the green jacket, the secondary objective is to make sure you beat Jeff Knox. The legendary marker has filled out the Masters field in the event of an odd-man cut since 2003 and has taken the scalps of more than a few of earth's best golfers in the process (including Rory McIlroy in 2014.) McIlroy was gracious in defeat, saying “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone putt the greens as well as he does,” but you can expect the current world no. 1 to have his game face on should they ever meet again.
We’re not saying Michael Phelps—owner of a human-record 23 Olympic Gold medals—is most famous for standing behind Tiger Woods during Woods’ run to a fifth Masters triumph in 2019, but we’re not NOT saying it either.
Before his epic Masters comeback in 2019, Tiger Woods had a prime chance at a fifth green jacket in 2013. In contention late in his round on Friday, Woods hit a perfect third shot into the par-5 15th, so perfect that it hit the flagstick and ricocheted back into the pond in front of the green. From there, all hell broke loose. He eventually signed for a one-under 71, but it later turned into a 73 when David Eger, a four time PGA Champions Tour winner, called in a rules infraction on Woods, who apparently took an illegal drop. It’s the most famous (or infamous) viewer call-in in golf history (which is something that’s no longer allowed to happen after viewer call-ins were banned in 2018.)
It's just not the Masters until Joe Ford—who stars in a supporting role while simultaneously running the the whole show from the shadows—has made an appearance. See you in November, Joe.
Thanks to his win at the 2012 Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship, Guan gained entry into the Masters field, making him the youngest competitor in Masters history at 14 years and 5 months. He made more history on Friday afternoon, becoming the youngest player ever to make the cut in a PGA Tour event at four over. Unfortunately, his incredible story was spoiled a bit on Sunday, when he was hit with a (gasp!) slow-play penalty, one of a handful of slow-play penalties ever given out in the history of professional golf.
The very reminder that Martha Burk played even a small role in Masters history is enough to give your typical green jacket hives. But there’s no mistaking that Burk had a presence at the 2003 Masters, where she led a protest of Augusta National’s then all-male membership down Washington Road from the club entrance. Burk didn’t succeed in getting the club to immediately respond, but it ultimately did relent in inviting women to join. For that reason, Burk holds the distinction of altering tournament history without ever setting foot on club grounds.
The ability to speak in hushed tones is on the short list of golf announcer requirements, and to understand why, think back to the final hole of the 1978 Masters. It was there that Hubert Green faced a three-foot putt to force a playoff with Gary Player, but instead he was distracted by radio announcer Kelly describing the scene to radio listeners. Green backed off the putt, then missed the attempt moments later. Green acknowledged hearing what Kelly said, but refused to blame him. Nonetheless, the announcer likely erred on the side of whispering from that point forward.
The purpose of any good B character is to provide a new layer of depth to a protagonist. And so you have Molly Watson, Bubba’s mom, who provided the literal shoulder for her son to cry on in the immediate aftermath of his 2012 win. For a player who captivated Masters audiences with his improbable hooked wedge out of the trees on the first playoff hole, the ensuing collapse into his mother’s arm was also signal that Bubba could also be a blubbering mess.