Golf is not for everyone. It requires patience, mental fortitude, and the ability to have a short memory. And those are not easy qualities to come by. Yet, even if you can’t appreciate the game itself, even if you’re among those who don’t find the sport appealing, there are still certain events that manage to capture the attention of golf’s biggest haters. One of these events involves a historic course in Georgia, “a tradition unlike any other,” and a green jacket for the victor. This is, the Masters.
As we watch the 2016 Masters, we feel a certain obligation to reflect on the tournament’s past greatness. And while this major championship tends to bring out top-notch competition among the game’s best players, that doesn’t mean it always works out that way. Sometimes, one individual just takes it to the rest of the field; crushing the competition by an extremely wide margin. Here’s a look at the three biggest examples of this in Masters history.
3. Raymond Floyd
Margin of victory: 8 strokes
Right from the start of the 1976 Masters, one thing was undeniably clear: Raymond Floyd would receive the green jacket. After shooting an opening round 65, Floyd proceeded to shoot 66, 70, and 70 in the final three rounds, resulting in a final score of 17-under (271).
In what turned out to be the only Masters victory of his career, Floyd not only coasted to an eight-shot victory, he also tied Jack Nicklaus for the lowest 72-hole score in tournament history. And while the latter record no longer stands, the green jacket lasts forever.
2. Jack Nicklaus
Margin of victory: 9 strokes
At the 1965 Masters, Jack Nicklaus showed everyone why he is regarded as the greatest golfer in the history of the game. After posting a 67 in the first round, The Golden Bear continued with the onslaught, shooting 71, 64, and 69 in the final three rounds of the tournament.
Nicklaus’ 17-under-par (271) set the 72-hole standard at Augusta National and his nine-stroke win was the largest margin of victory the Masters had ever seen. But as we all know, records are meant to be broken.
1. Tiger Woods
Margin of victory: 12 strokes
In 1997, Tiger Woods — then just 21 years, 3 months, and 14 days old — took his talents to Augusta National Golf Club and turned the Masters Tournament into his own personal playground. With a four-round score of 270 (18-under-par), Woods set the course record for the lowest score of all time, while also blowing away the rest of the field with an absurd 12-stroke victory.
While Woods is far removed from the player he once was, this performance is just another reminder of how he revolutionized the game of golf. Boy, do we miss vintage Tiger. When he was “on,” it truly was a sight to behold.