When Tiger Woods won the 2005 US Masters

Tiger Woods has gone down in legend for his sensational shot at the 16th hole in the final round of the 2005 US Masters. But what was the full story of that tournament?

Tiger Woods played 279 shots at the 2005 Masters.

But it's just the one of them that is replayed time and time and time and time again.

At the 16th hole, under immense final round pressure, he was faced with a recovery demanding immense imagination and supreme skill - and he holed it.

It was a simply sensational shot, one that has been used to define his legend.

And yet in many ways it's only a very small part of the extraordinary story of the 2005 Masters.

David and Goliath

The final round very quickly became a thrilling head-to-head between Woods and Chris DiMarco.

If it made perfect sense that Woods was in contention it was a little more unlikely that his fellow American was pushing for a first Green Jacket.

True, he was a three-time PGA Tour winner, but it was over three years since his last title.

The flipside, however, was that he had lost in a play-off at the previous season's PGA Championship and had finished runner-up in 2005's WGC World Match Play.

Oh, and in three completed starts at Augusta National he had finished tied 10th, tied 12th and tied sixth.

He was, in other words, an in-form player and a course specialist.

The trouble was that Woods made such concepts seem a little insignificant. He hadn't finished runner-up in one Major Championship, he'd won eight of them.

Ditto World Golf Championships: he'd won eight of those as well.

He was also a two-time winner in 2005 already.

In other words, there was a difference between these two players: one was good, the other was great.

The first three days

Thursday was cold and wet.

DiMarco thrived, shooting 67 for the solo first round lead. Woods struggled needing 74 blows, meanwhile past champion Billy Casper labored for a worst-in-Masters-history 106 (34-over-par).

Rain delays continued on Friday, but DiMarco added another 67 to open up a four-shot lead over Thomas Bjorn with Woods alone in third another two strokes back after a 66.

The leaders completed nine holes of the third round on Saturday, with DiMarco playing them in 3-under to reach 13-under for the week and Woods now hot on his heels, going 5-under to sit at 9-under for the tournament.

That pattern, of Woods playing catch-up, was maintained when the round was completed early on Sunday.

Woods signed for a 67, in the middle of which he birdied seven straight holes, to claim the lead on 11-under.

DiMarco had wilted.

He'd limped through the back nine in 41 blows for a 74 and was now 8-under for the week.

Most expected him to maintain the backward slide in the afternoon.

The final round

Through the turn both players had improved their scores by two, so the Woods advantage remained three, but the next few holes were nip and tuck.

Woods made bogey at 10 and didn't retrieve the shot until the par-5 15th.

DiMarco exchanged birdies at 11, 14 and 15 with a dropped shot at 12.

The gap was now one and DiMarco had the honor at the par-3 16th.

He found the middle of the green and Woods blinked, his tee shot clearing the putting surface by some margin.

He was left with few options.

To chip directly at the hole was all but impossible - he would struggle to keep the ball close to the pin.

He therefore started to eye-up the famous slope with runs through the heart of the green - could he stun the ball into it and allow it to then drift back toward the pin?

On commentary Lanny Wadkins was in no doubt about his options, but also about the high tariff.

"This is extremely difficult," he said.

"I was just trying to throw the ball up there on the hill," Woods later explained. "Then let it feed down there and hopefully leave a make-able putt."

What happened next has gone down in Masters legend.

He punched down on the ball, it skidded up the slope, lost speed, and then slowly slipped back toward the hole.

Not just exactly - but precisely - as planned.

Commentator Verne Lundqvist's words captured the moment.

"Well, here it comes," he said, as the ball reversed direction.

"Oh my goodness," as it homed in on the pin.

The ball was dead-weight.

It hesitated on the edge of the cup.

And very slowly…it dropped.

"Oh! Wow!" cried Lundqvist. "In your life have you seen anything like that?!"

Woods and caddie Steve Williams roared their approval and high-fived.

But the story was far from over. David wasn't done with Goliath.


Poor DiMarco.

What happened on the 16th hole is largely thought of as the determining factor of that tournament. And yet, despite facing a two-shot deficit, it's forgotten that he forced a play-off.

On the one hand it was because Woods dropped shots at 17 and 18.

On the other, never discount the fight required by DiMarco to stand tall after the noise and the brilliance of Woods at 16.

He dug in when many others would have wilted.

"Chris is a tough competitor and a fighter," Woods said afterwards. "He's never going to back off and he proved that again."

Alas, whilst DiMarco made a solid par at the first extra hole (18 again), Woods drained a 15-footer for the winning birdie.

Tiger Woods puts on the Green Jacket after winning the 2005 Masters
Tiger Woods puts on the Green Jacket after winning the 2005 Masters

"12-under is usually good enough to win the Masters," DiMarco said. "It was just that I was playing against Tiger Woods.

"I would let it hurt if I gave it away but I didn't. I really didn't."

Incredibly, he had finished fully seven shots clear of Luke Donald and Retief Goosen, who shared third.

Woods was asked if he had ever prepared for the shot he hit on 16.

"Never ever," he said with a laugh. "You're not supposed to hit the ball over there."

Where, he was further asked, did it rank in his all-time great shots?

"Under the circumstances, it's one of the best I've ever hit," he said.

"The biggest danger was fatting it and getting too cute with it.

"I got a great break. It didn't go in the bunker, didn't go in the rough and somehow an earthquake happened and it fell in the hole."

Lundqvist had asked: "In your life have you seen anything like that?!"

The answer was that no, we hadn't.

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