Strange But True: Long Shot

During the Masters Tournament of 1935 Gene Sarazen belted one of the greatest golf shots ever seen.

Craig Wood, a magnificent golfer, started the last round of the Masters three strokes ahead. When he finished the round and went into the clubhouse in Augusta, Georgia, he was still three strokes up. Gene Sarazen was the only golfer with an outside chance to catch him.

Sarazen was about to play the fifteenth hole, one of the toughest at the Augusta National Course. It was a par-5 hole, with a 23-foot drop in elevation. Because a pond protected the green, the second shot was the most important. Even good golfers went into the water if they tried to get over the pond with a long drive on the second shot. The safest way to get a par was to drive off the tee, then pop the ball close to the pond. After that, a chip shot would go onto the green. The golfer would putt twice and get his par.

But Sarazen knew he was losing, and could not afford to play it safe. He smashed a 300-yard drive straight down the fairway. Then, with a 4-wood, he swung to clear the pond.

The ball flew over the pond, bounced onto the green and kept rolling. The gallery crowd began to murmur, and then scream, as the ball kept rolling and rolling–right into the cup. Gene Sarazen had come across when the pressure was greatest. He had scored two on a par-5 hole–a double eagle.

After that, all he needed was a par on the last three holes to tie. He did it. And in the playoffs the next day he defeated Craig Wood to win the Masters Tournament.

From The Giant Book of Strange But True Sports Stories by Howard Liss. Illustrations by Joe Mathieu.

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When you can walk its length, and leave no trace, you will have learned.

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