On April 10, 2005, Tiger Woods made one of the most incredible shots in the storied history of The Masters. In pursuit of his first major championship in more than two years and also looking to match the four green jackets won by Arnold Palmer at Augusta National, Woods found himself in an incredible duel down the stretch with the gritty Chris DiMarco, who was looking to win his first major title.
Weather played a significant role at The Masters in 2005. Heavy rain on Thursday morning caused a five-hour delay and left 68 players needing to finish their first-round on Friday after play was suspended due to darkness. More rain on Friday caused the majority of second-round play to spill into Saturday. The leaders only got about half of their third round in on Saturday, setting up a dramatic Sunday.
Chris DiMarco held a four-shot lead on Tiger Woods when he went to bed on Saturday night. But by the end of the third round on Sunday morning, he was down three. Between Saturday and Sunday, Woods had at one point strung together seven consecutive birdies and shot a 7-under round of 65. At that point in time, a three-shot lead for Tiger Woods heading into the final round of a major championship was essentially already a victory. But DiMarco continued to fight.
After both birdied the ninth, Tiger still led by three shots heading to the back nine. But a bogey from Woods at the 10th dropped his lead to two. DiMarco birdied the 11th to cut the lead to one and that battle was on. DiMarco dropped a shot at the 12th but got it back at the 14th. Both birdied the par-5 15th and Tiger’s lead was still one.
What happened at the par-3 16th became an instant legendary tale in the career of Tiger Woods. But while the 16th was incredible, it’s only part of the story that was the 2005 edition of The Masters.
Tiger Woods’ amazing chip-in at the 16th hole
The 16th hole at Augusta National Golf Club, the 170-yard par-3 named Redbud, is simply a beautiful golf hole. The water, the trees, the sloping green, it’s just magnificent. Down one at the 2005 Masters, Chris DiMarco hit a solid tee shot at the 16th, giving himself a very makeable birdie putt. Tiger Woods, on the other hand, hit his tee shot off to the left of the green, giving himself a difficult chip as he was hoping to just get up and down for a par. And then it happened.
Picking a spot up the slope no bigger than a dime some 25 feet above the hole, Tiger let the chip fly and waited for gravity to do its job. He hit his mark perfectly and watched as the ball rolled down the slope toward the hole. Tiger, alongside caddie Steve Williams, crouched down as the ball inched ever closer to the cup, seemingly stopping just short, just long enough to give spectators a look at the Nike logo on his ball, before dropping in, setting off one of the loudest ovations in golf history. Tiger and Stevie didn’t even know how to react, fumbling through a high-five as Woods screamed at the top of his lungs as DiMarco looked on. It really was an amazing shot and, following a par from DiMarco, gave Woods a two-shot lead with two holes to play.
But while many people remember this as being the shot that won Tiger the 2005 Masters, that’s actually not the case.
Many people forget that he bogeyed the final two holes and almost lost on a chip-in from Chris DiMarco
What most people tend to forget is that following that incredible chip-in at the 16th, Tiger Woods didn’t waltz to victory. With a two-shot lead, he came to the par-4 17th hole still a little amped up and completely blocked his tee shot, which led to a bogey as DiMarco made his par, cutting Woods’ lead to one. Surely, Tiger Woods couldn’t lose after such a moment at the 16th, right? Well, that actually almost happened.
Just before hitting his approach shot on the 18th, sirens went off in the background, naturally causing Tiger to back off. As he tends to do every single year, Jim Nantz put a perfect call on it with “Well, the alarm’s going off in his swing, someone might be trying to steal his green jacket.” Man, that guy’s good and it was actually true. Woods hit a poor approach into the last while DiMarco came up just short of the green. And then DiMarco nearly ended things when his chip went in. Honestly, even looking back at it now, I have no idea how that shot didn’t go in. Perhaps it had a little too much juice on it as it rolled about six feet past the flag but it was so close to dropping.
Tiger made a three-footer for a bogey and DiMarco calmly dropped his par putt to force a playoff.
Tiger Woods birdied the first playoff hole for his fourth win at The Masters
With nightfall on the horizon, Tiger Woods and Chris DiMarco went back to the 18th tee to begin their sudden-death playoff. Both found the fairway off the tee, DiMarco to the right and Tiger to left-center. DiMarco’s approach hit the green but spun back to nearly the exact spot where he’d nearly chipped in. Woods hit an 8-iron right over the hole and came to rest about 12 feet past the hole.
Once again, DiMarco nearly made his chip, coming up short by only about a foot and tapped in for par, setting the stage for yet another classic Tiger moment. Woods buried his birdie putt, setting off another electric reaction as he pumped his fist in victory, his fourth win at The Masters and ninth major championship.
As he had to be on a few different occasions, DiMarco was gracious in defeat, acknowledging that he’d had his chances but just let things slip through his fingers. Woods and DiMarco would battle again at The Open Championship at Hoylake in 2006 with Tiger once again emerging victorious. DiMarco could’ve just faded away after the famous chip-in at the 16th but fought to stay alive and nearly stole the show. But it was once again Tiger’s day. The chip-in might be the most famous shot from that day but it’s often easy to forget that the now-15-time major champion almost let that one get away.