This is the latest installment of our Masters Rewatch series, in which we watch and recap the last 23 final rounds of the Masters while we’re working from home due to the coronavirus. What better way to get your Masters fix while in quarantine than by firing up YouTube and remembering all the stuff you might have missed from past Sundays at Augusta National?
The 2013 Masters doesn’t garner the same adoration as the quote-unquote top-tier Masters, like 1986 or 2019. But the Aussie-themed, rain-soaked Sunday of seven years ago can go toe-to-toe with any day at Augusta National in terms of sheer drama.
Three Australians hovered near the top of the leader board during the final round, clawing at each other to (finally) become the first from their country to win the Masters. Tiger Woods hung around despite playing under the specter of a spicy rules controversy all weekend. And then there was Angel Cabrera, an afterthought coming into the week, ready to poach yet another major championship.
In the end, as I’m sure you’ll recall, Adam Scott came out on top. But there was so, so much more to that day. Here’s what stands out from an epic rewatch.
1. The opening montage begins with a nondescript scene-setter, but one thing is extremely clear: the biggest story of the week had been Tiger’s rules mishap on Friday. He was cruising on the back nine, about to take the lead when his wedge approach into 15 hit the flagstick and rolled back in the water. He then dropped his ball and got up and down for bogey. Crisis averted.
The crisis restarted in his post-round interview, when he said he purposely dropped his ball two yards behind where he hit the first one. That’s a violation—if you opt to re-play from the same spot, you’re suppose to drop it as close to the original spot as possible. If he hadn’t said anything, there’d likely be no penalty, but he admitted to knowingly dropping it two yards behind.
Instead of being DQ’d, he was allowed to stay in the tournament and assessed only a two-shot penalty under a new rule (at the time) that allowed the committee to overrule an otherwise-disqualifiable offense if the penalty was discovered based on television evidence. That he was allowed to keep playing was quite controversial. Nick Faldo said something along the lines of, the rules of golf have been changed and it’ll never be the same. Heavy!
2. The first live golf shot we see on the day is from 55-year-old Bernhard Langer, who drops a 25-footer for birdie at the first. He then birdies the second and drops another bomb for birdie at No. 3. He faded considerably down the stretch, but man, PGA Tour Champions guys making a run at Augusta—it’s a tradition unlike any other.
3. Three Aussies begin the day within a shout of the lead: Scott, the most accomplished of the group, 32 years old, squarely in his prime; Jason Day, 25 years old and goateed, with a still-functioning back and the best putting stroke in the game; and 29-year-old Marc Leishman, who is described as “unheralded” and “little known.” It feels like Leishman’s been around forever—and he did make a significant blip on the radar by winning rookie of the year in 2009—but he falls firmly under the late-bloomer category.
4. Brandt Snedeker starts the day tied for the lead with Angel Cabrera. Snedeker was set up for a redemption day after shooting 77 on Sunday with a chance in 2008, and he was playing the best golf of his career in 2013, a second at Phoenix and a win at Pebble propelling him to World No. 5. At that point, he was the second-highest ranked American, behind only Tiger.
About Tiger. He was at the peak of his little 2012-’13 renaissance. He’d won his last two starts coming into the Masters, at Doral and Bay Hill, the latter taking him back to World No. 1. He was a big, big favorite that week.
5. Tianlang Guan! The 14-year-old from China was the only amateur to make the cut that week despite being hit with a slow-play penalty. Seriously. There’s been three slow-play penalties handed out over the last 30 years, and one of them went to a 14-year-old amateur.
If you’re wondering what ever happened to Tianlang Guan, I was too. Thankfully for us, Google exists. Let’s begin by remembering he qualified for the event by winning the Asia-Pacific Amateur title the previous November. The accompanying invite to Augusta made him the youngest to ever qualify for the major. And then he became the youngest to ever made the cut, not just in a major but any PGA Tour event. OK, so what happened to him? He’s somehow still just 21-years-old, and he played a year at Arizona before pulling out and getting his PGA Tour China card in January.
6. Kevin Na is shown making a three-footer for a 10 at the par-3 12th. He hit four balls in the water. This came one year after he made a 16 in San Antonio. I present all this information without comment.
7. I have a bit of a thing for Angel Cabrera, who had an all-time swaggy strut (waddle?) when he was in contention. Which, of course, wasn’t often, but when he was, it was often in huge moments. On the par-5 second, he absolutely mashes his drive well past the bunker, leaving just 238 in. He flushes a baby cut long iron, and while the ball is still well short of its apex, turns to have a casual chat with his caddie, who happens to be his son. It finished 10 feet, and he two-putted for birdie.
8. One of the best parts of these Masters rewatches is the old sponsorships. At this point in time, Tiger’s bag was sponsored by a company called FUSE Science. Huh? Little-known Leishman was wearing a Ben Hogan shirt. Scott had the Mercedes circle-thing on his chest—is there a more perfect player-sponsor match than Adam Scott and Mercedes?
9. Day holes a bunker shot for eagle on 2 to jump into a tie for the lead with Snedeker. This was his second time being in contention at Augusta in two years, as he and Scott finished tied for second two years earlier to Charl Schwartzel’s lights out run.
10. Leishman hits his approach well left of the hole at the par-3 sixth and proceeds to chip from on the green. At Augusta! I’d love to see the reaction if some regular scrub tried to do that at Augusta.
11. Peter Kostis remarks that Cabrera would become the first … wait for it … grandfather to win the Masters. A grandfather! At 43! Angel got it going early!
12. Tiger took forever to get going, failing to birdie No. 2, missing a good look for birdie at No. 3, bogeying Nos. 4 and 7 and failing to birdie No. 8. The struggles came mostly on the greens. The announcers keep harping on Tiger’s inability to make key putts on Sundays at Augusta since his last win there in 2005. It reminds us just how painful those 2009-’18 years were for Tiger in the majors—so many close calls without ever kicking the door down. Thank goodness for the 2019 Masters.
13. Thorbjorn Olesen had the best round of anyone near contention, making seven birdies en route to a four-under 68 and a backdoor T-6. He’s lavished with praise—a good looking 25-year-old with a picture-perfect swing, a great demeanor and an awesome name. Which brings me to my next point: According to Jim Nantz, he used to go by Jacob, but opted for Thorbjorn because it sticks out more. Good call. Here’s to hoping Jacob/Thorbjorn sorts out his personal life soon.
14. As the leaders make the turn, the three Aussies are tied for second, two shots behind Angel, who did not miss a shot on the front nine: seven pars and two birdies on the par 5. That’s how it’s done. He looked the furthest thing from shaky, and it seemed like Australia would be denied the green jacket once again. But … all together now …the Masters doesn’t start until the back nine on Sunday.
15. It’s really a miracle Cabrera was in this thing at all based on how he played the par 5s on the back. He made an absolute mess at 13 for a bogey 6. A bogey at 13! Per our E. Michael Johnson, he would have become the only Masters winner to make a bogey at either 13, 14 or 15 since Ian Woosnam in 1992.
16. Speaking of 13 … Scott gets a super lucky break. His second shot banks into the hill, and if it wasn’t a steady rain all day, there’s a good chance it rolls back into the water. Instead, it stops just short of the green for an easy up-and-down birdie to get him to seven under.
17. Up ahead, Day seems to be taking control of the tournament. He makes birdie at 13, then hits a gorgeous approach to about 10 feet at 14 and cans that. He swings out of his shoes on his tee shot at 15, blocking it way right, but it catches a tree head-on and kicks into the middle of the fairway. From there, a long iron onto the green and a two-putt birdie. The rain is intensifying. He’s getting all the breaks. This seems to be his day.
18. Tiger’s chances are doomed by a missed eight-footer for birdie at 16. He bounced back solidly from a slow start and ended up shooting two-under 70 when he needed 66 to get into a playoff. At least he didn’t finish two shots outside of the playoff, or that penalty would live in real infamy.
19. Day, his veins ostensibly pumping adrenaline, gasses his approach just over the green at 16 and fails to get up-and-down from a decent spot. Brutal. He pipes his tee shot on 17 then chunks his approach into the bunker and again can’t get it up and in. Those two bogeys dropped him to seven under, and that would doom him. Meanwhile, Scott birdies 15 to get to eight under, one ahead of Day and Cabrera.
20. Angel is stalling majorly after his disappointing par at 15, and he’s almost an afterthought after hitting his approach to 25 feet at 16. He rams that one dead center to get to eight under, and he and Scott are tied.
21. Adam Scott had quite the Masters moment on 18. Nantz sets it up, saying it’s the biggest putt of his life, talking about Australia, and Scott’s 15-footer catches the left lip and falls in for birdie. Nantz goes nuts. YES! UNREAL! Scott himself yells “C’mon Aussies!.” It’s a winning scene. But Angel lurks in the 18th fairway.
22. Cabrera’s approach into 18 might be my favorite golf shot ever. Scott’s celebrating like he won it. The crowd is going crazy for him. It’s now fully pouring. Angel’s son is on the bag. As he approaches his ball, there’s a ruffle behind him and he turns around and says, in his broken English, Quiet, please! He then flushes a 9-iron and immediately starts yelling Vuele! Vuele!, which is Spanish for fly. It pitches on the front edge, bounces, checks and trickles out to two feet. So. Bad. Ass.
23. Angel brushes it in. Both guys get up-and-down for par on the first playoff hole. They then head back to the 10th tee, and Scott delivers an all-time Masters montage moment with his winning birdie. Steve Williams goes mad, as does the entire nation of Australia.
An all-time Masters.
2013 Masters—Final Round Broadcast