The Masters. Augusta National. Green jackets and Golden Bell. No golf tournament conjures more memories or goosebumps.
Tiger’s chip at 16. Phil’s pine-straw shot through the trees on 13. Bubba’s slingshot gap wedge on 10. Jack’s putt at 17.
But while the Masters has produced some of the greatest moments in golf history, not all of its champions are created equal. Some performances are better than others. And that’s what we’re ranking: the greatest Masters champions since the turn of the millennium based on their performance in that tournament. And so heading into the 2019 Masters, here are the 19 greatest Masters champions of the last 19 years.
19. Mike Weir, 2003
Weir became the first lefty to win the Masters by playing it safe. He didn’t attack one Par-5 in two all week, opting instead to lay up and rely on his wedge game to make birdies. It worked on the final day, as he birdied three of four Par 5s. But his second-round 75 can’t be ignored, nor can the fact that he won in a playoff with a bogey (his opponent, Len Mattiace, made double after his ball landed behind a tree). Mattiace also bogeyed 18 in regulation and was the only person to challenge Weir as everyone around him faded on Sunday, including third-round leader Jeff Maggert, who shot 75 to lose a two-stroke lead.[/caption]
18. Danny Willett, 2016
Does anyone remember Danny Willett won the 2016 Masters? Or do you all remember Jordan Spieth hitting two into the water on No. 12 as part of his epic back-9 collapse to lose it? All credit to to Willett for shooting a 67 on Sunday and coming back to win it. But that was only his second round under par that week and he faced no pressure on the final day, having started five stokes behind Spieth. This was more about Spieth’s collapse than Willett’s play, which also included a score of 74 in the second round.
17. Trevor Immelman, 2008
Immelman put together the best three-round stretch of his career, getting to 11-under par heading into the final round. Then he shot a forgettable 75 on Sunday to finish at 8-under. Everyone else around him faltered too (Brandt Snedeker, in second place heading into Sunday, shot 77, and Steve Flash shot 78 after starting the day in third). But when a champion limps to the finish line, including a double on 16, that’s your lasting memory.
16. Vijay Singh, 2000
A workman golfer earned a workman green jacket. Singh had to play 22 holes on Sunday starting at 8:15 a.m. and ending at dusk after the third round was suspended for darkness. He shot 3-under over those holes and won by three over Ernie Els. It wasn’t the prettiest performance (he had putting issues, as was the case much of his career), but it might have been the grittiest victory from a man known on tour as the ultimate grinder.
15. Ángel Cabrera, 2009
Kenny Perry had this Masters within reach, holding a two-stroke lead with two holes to play. But bogeys on 17 and 18 sent this to a three-man playoff. After Chad Campbell was eliminated on the first hole, Perry bogeyed No. 10 and Cabrera two-putted for the win. Cabrera shot four rounds under par, which is always impressive. But this was about Perry’s collapse more than Cabrera’s outstanding play.