The city of Augusta and Augusta National may be a beacon to the greatest golfers in the world, but the tournament’s home state of Georgia has been able to boast its share of players to have a strong influence on the Masters.
Here’s a look at four of them.
I imagine if you were a smart kid who was born in Cambridge, Mass., and didn’t go to Harvard, you’d really feel awful about yourself. A version of that nearly happened to Larry Mize, who grew up in Augusta and worked the Masters scoreboard as a child. Luckily for Mize, though, he not only grew up to win the 1987 Masters, he also hit one of the most legendary shots in tournament history. His chip-in on the second playoff hole stole victory from Greg Norman and immortalized Mize in Masters lore.
Watson may be an honorary Georgian at best (he played two years for the University of Georgia Bulldogs in 2000 and 2001), but his impact on the Masters was huge. This native of Bagdad, Fla., hooked a wedge out of trouble to win the 2012 event and then brought the Masters hype to new audiences during a Green Jacket media tour in New York City. He might be from the Sunshine State, but Watson is a Georgia Bubba through and through.
Aaron won the 1973 Masters, but his biggest impact on the event was five years earlier. During the final round in 1968, this Georgia boy recorded an incorrect score on playing partner Roberto De Vicenzo’s card. Roberto signed the card and the higher score meant he missed out on a playoff with Bob Goalby. De Vicenzo never contended in a major again.
Before the Arnold Palmer era, talented players could usually earn more money as club pros than as touring pros—so Harmon won the 1948 Masters while also serving as the head pro at Winged Foot. This Georgian’s real Masters legacy, though, was in fathering the instructors that guided future players to Masters victories: his son Dick worked with Masters champions Fred Couples and Greg Norman, while his son Butch has coached green jacket owners Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Mike Weir.
Is Patrick Reed Next?
This year at the Masters, a fifth Augusta native will be making a return home. Patrick Reed, who attended and played golf at Augusta State University, will be playing in his first ever Masters next week. Reed hopes to leave his mark on his home state of Georgia, just as his fellow Georgia natives have in the past.
Photo Gallery: Augusta National Turns 81
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