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Friday, March 25, 2011
1987 Masters: Larry Mize chips into history


The shot will go down as one of the most famous in golf history, certainly a big talking point whenever the subject of most memorable Masters is broached.

Masters Top 25 Moment -- No. 10

But consider the fate of Larry Mize as he stepped to the 10th tee at Augusta National in 1987 for the start of a sudden-death playoff with Greg Norman and Seve Ballesteros.

Norman and Ballesteros had combined to win 91 worldwide tournaments, Mize just one. Norman was ranked No. 1 in the world, Ballesteros No. 3. Mize? No. 36.

So nobody was giving the Augusta, Ga., native much of a chance against two of the game's heavyweights, both of whom had contended at the Masters a year prior.

"I had a healthy respect for them," Mize recalled. "But you can't fear someone you're playing. I didn't have any fear. I was confident going into the playoff because I played well that week. And the birdie at 18 that got me in was a big factor as well."

Ballesteros bowed out with a three-putt bogey at 10. And when Mize missed the green well to the right of the 11th, with Norman on the front edge, a green jacket appeared imminent for the Shark.

Larry Mize
Augusta native Larry Mize celebrates his chip-in that gave him a victory in the 1987 Masters.

Mize figured he had just one play, a 56-degree wedge shot that he would bump and run. He figured he needed the loft because the greens were so fast. "I picked a spot and landed it right there," he said. The ball tracked toward the cup and dropped for a birdie that sent Mize dancing around the green in purple glory -- the color of his shirt.

Norman -- felled by a holed shot from off the green to lose a second straight major -- was stunned as he prepared to hit his putt that would not fall.

"All I could do was just wait there and take it," he said. "It was the hardest 45 seconds of my life."

The moment and the shot are so special to Mize that he says he has never tried to duplicate it.

"The thing is, if I go back and hit the shot again, then my memory is not of the shot," Mize said. "Now when I see the shot, it keeps the memory pure. It's one of the great decisions I've made. I've never gone back. The only way I go over there is if I hit the ball in that area during the tournament. It keeps it a great memory."

For an interactive timeline of classic moments in Masters history, check out Masters.com.

Bob Harig covers golf for ESPN.com. He can be reached at BobHarig@gmail.com.