It was an impossible shot. Masters title on the line, sudden-death playoff, 140 feet between ball and hole, a tight lie in the fairway, an upslope in front of him, a down-slopping green rolling straight into a pond beyond him, the entire world watching, all of Augusta, Georgia rooting for him. Nothing but a hope and prayer.
Then, it happened. A prayer was answered. Local hero Larry Mize hit one of the most improbable shots in golf history, chipping in to beat Greg Norman and win the Masters on this day (April 12) in 1987.
In that situation, getting the ball close to the hole would have been an amazing shot. That he knocked it in was unthinkable, for Mize, Norman and everyone watching. But knock it in he did, cementing himself in Augusta lore as the local kid who went from changing numbers on the scoreboard at the tournament as a teenager to donning the green jacket as an adult.
For Norman, it was the second straight year of heartache, and likely the toughest loss of his career. Losing to a legend like Jack Nicklaus, when the Golden Bear shot 30 on the back nine on Sunday to win his sixth green jacket, the year before is one thing. Losing to an unheralded player like Mize was another. But lose he did.
For Mize, it was the defining shot of his career. He won three other tournaments and played on tour for over two decades. But his highest world ranking was No. 10 and he only finished as high as third in one other major, the 1994 Masters. But when you hit a shot like he did, you'll always be remembered and revered, both in your home town and around the world.