U.S. Open-like scores, a Tiger Woods club snap, and a plucky Zach Johnson defined the 2007 Masters
This is the latest 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?
A funny thing happened at the 2007 Masters when a U.S. Open broke out instead. Not a single player broke par that week, which probably made some USGA execs jealous. But the high scoring had a lot more to do with the low wind chills than the course setup. I actually remember this one well because it was the first of three Masters I attended as a fan. And admittedly, I felt a bit cheated walking around the hallowed grounds of Augusta National for the first time while dressed like I was going out to shovel snow. Anyway, here’s what stood out when I rewatched that Sunday slugfest.
1.) CBS opens the broadcast with a look back at Arnold Palmer making his debut as honorary starter on Thursday. I definitely don’t remember it taking that long for the four-time Masters champ to assume that role, but anyway, Palmer piped one and even gave a little club twirl. The King!
2.) “Will Augusta become Tiger’s favorite playground again?” Jim Nantz asks as the attention turns to a packed Sunday leader board headlined by Tiger Woods, who is attempting to win a fifth green jacket and a third consecutive major overall. Nantz also informs viewers that the weather is better than the past couple days, but it’s still 55 with a wind chill of 48. Forget what I said about a U.S. Open breaking out, this was more like a British Open. You could barely even see Tiger’s Sunday red!
3.) Woods and Stuart Appleby—the forgotten 54-hole leader—are shown on tape butchering the first hole in the final pairing. Not sure why CBS wasn’t live for the entire hole … I thought that had been fixed?! Woods is shown live for the first time holing a three-footer for bogey. You can feel the electricity as that actually moves him into a tie with Appleby, who made double bogey. On the bright side, both fared better on the opening hole than defending champ Phil Mickelson, who made triple bogey up ahead. Rough.
4.) OK, how about some actual highlights? Retief Goosen holes a putt from off the green on No. 3 and suddenly there’s a four-way tie! (At four over par.) And minutes later, Zach Johnson walks in a 20-footer for birdie on No. 3 and suddenly he’s in the lead! And … well … that’s about it for the highlights for now.
5.) Meanwhile in Butler Cabin, Nantz introduces Nick Faldo, who is making his Masters debut as CBS’ top analyst, replacing Lanny Wadkins. It’s a sweet gig, but it also means the three-time green jacket winner’s Masters career is effectively over at 49. That’s a lot to give up. Then again, he can still come back for the Champions Dinner and the Par 3 Contest, so … probably made the right call there.
6.) Woods grabs the solo lead at the Masters on a Sunday! Well, he didn’t so much grab it as it was given by Johnson, who three-putted the fifth hole for bogey. Regardless, Tiger on top of the final-round leader board at a major is a lock, right? Not so fast …
7.) Goosen birdies No. 7 to move into a tie for the lead with Tiger. It’s an amazing turnaround for someone who made the 36-hole cut on the number. Also amazing? Goosen’s Masters record from 2002-2007: Solo second, T-13, T-13, T-3, T-3, T-2. As we saw with his U.S. Open wins at Southern Hills (2001) and Shinnecock (2004), the guy sure could putt on fast greens.
8.) We have a new leader! Rory Sabbatini makes a 60-foot eagle putt on No. 8 by playing about 20 feet worth of break! The South African tosses his putter in the air in celebration, then bows toward the crowd. Now we’re starting to see some fireworks!
9.) Make that a fifth solo leader and we’re just about an hour into the broadcast! Goosen pulls in front thanks to a birdie on No. 8 and a bogey by Sabbatini on No. 9. Tiger falls two back with a bogey on No. 6. Oddly enough, after four birdies in his first eight holes, Goosen wouldn’t make another birdie the rest of the round. OK, so maybe that wasn’t so odd with Augusta National playing more difficult than usual.
10.) Speaking of not making a lot of birdies, Woods only makes par on No. 8. In fact, he only made one birdie on this Sunday. Granted, he also made an eagle on No. 13, but still, this wasn’t a typical Masters.
11.) Everyone remembers that Johnson dominated Augusta National’s four par 5s despite not going for the green in two on any all week. But I forgot that he wasn’t even on the green in three shots on No. 8—and still made birdie with a chip-in. This turned out to be possibly the most pivotal shot of the entire day.
12.) Goosen still had the lead on the back nine and I’ll give you one guess as to which hole got him? That’s right, 12. Goosen’s conservative tee shot found the left side of the green, but a rare three-putt by the South African dropped him to three over. He’d par the final six holes and finish T-2. Still, pretty sporty for someone who barely made the cut. And the lack of a third major didn’t keep him out of the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2019.
13.) I totally forgot just how involved Sabbatini was on this day. The South African had the solo lead after a two-putt birdie on No. 13, but bogeyed 14 and 16 to fall back. A final birdie on 18 put him in a three-way tie for second with Woods and Goosen. It remains Sabbatini’s lone top-15 finish in a major.
14.) Despite a disappointing day, Tiger still provided the highlight of the round. After blocking his tee shot on No. 11, Woods punches out from right up against a tree, causing his club’s shaft to snap in two.
He winds up 50 yards from the green and then hits a beautiful pitch to tap-in range. Who said pars can’t be exciting?!
15.) With all pars except one birdie and a double bogey through 11 holes, Appleby arrives at the 12th hole in a four-way tie for the lead with Johnson, Goosen, and Sabbatini. But arriving at the 12th hole with the lead and leaving the 12th hole with the lead are very different things on Sunday. Appleby’s tee shot comes up short and rolls into Rae’s Creek. Australia would have to wait another six years for that first green jacket.
16.) Johnson takes the lead with a two-putt birdie on No. 13. Kidding! He laid up and hit a wedge to about four feet. For the week on the par 5s, he made 11 birdies and no bogeys. He even did an instruction piece about it for Golf Digest a few years later. It was a great strategy. For him. If you have more pop, you should go for the green in two. Just saying.
17.) Johnson made another birdie on No. 14 and all of a sudden he was in control. Back-to-back birdies at this Masters was a downright heater.
18.) Tiger finally strikes with an eagle at No. 13! But, SPOILER ALERT, it won’t be enough. His last ditch effort comes on No. 15 when, after a drive right, he tried to slice one around a pine tree but his ball bounced off the bank and into the pond guarding the green. He’ll par his way home to finish at three over.
19.) ZJ is too tough. After parring 15, he knocks in a 12-footer for birdie on No. 16 to take a three-shot lead with two holes to go. Even with a bogey on 17, a par on 18—he got a nice break staying out of the right greenside bunker, then hit a beautiful chip to within a foot—gets him in the clubhouse at one over. And it would be enough for a two-shot win, as no one, including Tiger, was able to make a late charge.
To be honest, the rest of this finish was pretty boring so let’s skip to the green jacket ceremony in Butler Cabin.
20.) Johnson is introduced by Billy Payne, who is in his first Masters as chairman of Augusta National. Another debut! Then ZJ gets the green jacket from Phil Mickelson and does a Phil Mickelson-esque job of pitching all his various sponsors when answering Nantz’s first question. The guy is a pro. Johnson also says he didn’t really look at the leader board until 17! Seems like a bad strategy except he bogeyed 17, so maybe ignorance was bliss. Of course, Johnson would go on to win 10 more times (and counting) on the PGA Tour, including a second major at the 2015 Open Championship, so this was no fluke. Anyway, as the always awkward ceremony wraps up, one of the nicest men to ever don the green jacket drops a “Thank you kindly.” Perfect.
21.) A couple final notes on just how difficult the week was. Tiger didn’t break par in any round—and still finished T-2! And Zach Johnson’s 289 total tied for the highest winning score in Masters history with Sam Snead (1954) and Jack Burke Jr. (1956). So in a way, you could say this week set the tournament back more than 50 years. Of course, there’s only so much you can do when Mother Nature is in a foul mood. I just wish I had brought some pants.
2007 Masters—Final Round Broadcast