Larry Mize won 1987 Masters title
Mize holed chip shot to win a playoff
Augusta native talks to CNN's Don Riddell
It was a shot that defied the odds and defined a career, ensuring Larry Mize’s name will forever be whispered around the galleries at Augusta National Golf Club.
Faced with a daunting 100-foot chip onto a lightning-fast 11th green with water waiting behind, Mize famously holed out to win a playoff which saw him crowned 1987 Masters champion.
“It doesn’t get more exciting in golf for me than that day right there,” Mize told CNN’s Don Riddell on the eve of the 2017 tournament.
“I hit it and I’m frozen watching it. It goes in the hole and I throw my club up and I ran around screaming like a mad man – it was total elation,” he adds.
Mize’s improbable win made him the first Augusta native ever to slip into the coveted Green Jacket.
As a boy, Mize had worked the famous white Masters scoreboards that keep patrons up to date with the twists and turns of the tournament as they unfold during the four rounds.
“I was on the third (hole) scoreboard,” Mize recalls. “You climb up the ladder and you’d put the numbers on there and you have the little windows that you’d peek out and try and watch the play…”
The playoff victory over Greg Norman – and Seve Ballesteros, who had been eliminated at the previous hole – was Mize’s solitary major title and one of only four PGA Tour wins.
Leafing through the giant scrapbook crammed with news cuttings and photos from that famous day, Mize has only one regret – that he didn’t enjoy the victory more at the time.
“One mistake I realize looking back I would have probably watched it more and relived it more,” Mize says.
“I tried to go beyond it, continue to move on and stuff a little too quickly. I tell anybody now – ‘savor this, enjoy it!’”
Like all past Masters champions, Mize is exempt from qualifying and can play in the tournament as long as he wishes, which he’ll be doing again this year.
Now 58 years old, Mize probably won’t feature on the leaderboard in 2017, but whenever a ball lands wide right of the 11th green – Larry Mize country, as it is known locally – thoughts instinctively turn to his outrageous chip.
Mize doesn’t recall ever hitting his ball into the same place in rounds he’s played since that dramatic Sunday three decades ago – and he’s hoping he doesn’t start this year.
“I’ve never really been close to that spot again – that I can remember – and if I hit it there in a practice round I would move it, I wouldn’t play it,” he says.
“It’s just such a great memory I don’t want to ruin it… I did it when I needed to and I want to keep that memory pure. It’s been great for 30 years.”