Tiger's chip-in for birdie on 16 now part of Masters lore
by Associated Press
AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) - The ball hung tantalizingly on the lip of the cup, stopping for two full seconds. Tiger Woods froze in his tracks, bent over almost as if in prayer.
For a moment, Augusta National stood still, too.
The shot was already brilliant. Now it was about to become a part of Masters lore.
As gravity finally took over and the ball toppled slowly into the hole, the murmur building from the crowd as the ball made its way down the slope on the 16th green became a giant roar.
Woods raised himself up, yelled and began high-fiving caddie Steve Williams, while thousands packed around the green did the same with whoever happened to be next to them.
They may not have seen Woods when he won his fourth green jacket a short time later with a playoff putt on the 18th hole. But they were there to see a shot that will live forever as one of the handful of defining moments in Masters history.
"Somehow an earthquake happened and it fell into the hole," Woods said.
The shot had barely dropped when it was already being ranked among the most memorable of Masters moments, from Gene Sarazen's double eagle 4-wood in 1935 to Larry Mize's chip-in to beat Greg Norman in a playoff in 1987.
"I was just trying to throw the ball up there on the hill and let it feed down there and hopefully have a makeable putt," Woods said. "All of a sudden, it looked pretty good, and all of a sudden it looked like really good, and it looked like how could it not go in, and how did it not go in, and all of a sudden it went in.
"So, it was pretty sweet."
DiMarco was making a run at Woods, who had a precarious one-shot lead as they stood on the tee of the 170-yard par 3 hole that has been so pivotal in so many Masters.
DiMarco had honors and hit a good shot about 15 feet beneath the hole. Woods landed long with his 8-iron, and his ball caught up against the edge of the second cut over the back of the green.
If DiMarco made his putt and Woods couldn't get up-and-down for par, the tournament that seemed to be his when he started the day with a string of four straight birdies might have been snatched from his grasp.
With one brilliant stroke, though, Woods walked off the green with a two-shot lead and enough of a cushion to still get into a playoff despite bogeys on the final two holes.
"I think under the circumstances it's one of the best I've ever hit ... only because of the turning point," Woods said. "If Chris makes his putt, I make bogey and all of a sudden it's a different ball game. All of a sudden I'm one back."
Woods didn't have many options from the precarious spot his ball ended up beyond the green. He couldn't hit the ball directly at the hole because of the slope, so he looked way left to make the slope work for him.
Woods remembered Davis Love III making a similar shot in 1999, but his was more difficult because it was up against the deeper rough. Afraid he might hit it fat because of the lie, he told himself to hit it hard enough to get up the slope and take his chances from there.
Woods found a spot well left on the green where the fading sunlight was coming through the trees and took a few practice swipes with his wedge.
"A lot of it is luck but I hit it pretty good," Woods said. "I hit it right on the spot."
The ball hit, checked up and caught the slope at just the right place before taking a right angle turn toward the hole. It was still about 25 feet left of the hole when it began rolling slowly toward the pin.
The ball began losing speed as it neared the hole, slowing almost so much that the word "TIGER" could be read on the side. It made what seemed like two final turns, then stopped on the edge of the cup, teetering ever so slightly as if trying to defy gravity.
As thousands watching from greenside and millions others on television held their collective breath, it dropped into the cup and set off a raucous celebration.
"He made a great chip. Great imagination," DiMarco said. "I was over there expecting him to make it. You expect the unexpected.
"Unfortunately, it's not unexpected when he's doing it."