The ball hung on the edge of the hole for 1.8 seconds, a dramatic pause that would become etched in eternity. A roar like few ever heard at Augusta National followed Tiger Woods’ chip from just beyond the green at No. 16, built as the ball checked and rolled and caught the slope, and was about to reach a crescendo when …
The ball stopped. Suspended in time. As though pondering the fate of Woods and his closest pursuer, Chris DiMarco.
Tumble one more quarter-roll forward, and Woods would be on the way to his fourth Masters victory. Refuse to budge, and DiMarco could don the Green Jacket and win his first major title.
The moment remains as surreal as when it happened that Sunday 10 years ago.
"Somehow, an earthquake happened, and it fell in," Woods said at the time.
CBS announcer Verne Lundquist, stationed in the TV tower at No. 16, made the call that day. “It is the most remarkable shot I’ve ever seen,” Lundquist recalled recently. “The creativity in it, the belief that he could stop it that quickly, and have it turn right …”
Lundquist paused while recounting the story, much as he did for those 1.8 seconds a decade ago. Only this time he continued through the prism that time affords.
“I say this with all due respect to Chris: It was Tiger Woods,” Lundquist said. “If Chris DiMarco had made that shot and won the Tournament, I think we’d remember it and that that was the key shot in Chris DiMarco’s career. But we would not remember it with the vividness that we do because it was Tiger Woods.”
DiMarco can see the flip side of how it all unfolded.
“If you look at it 10 years later, it’s probably the greatest chip of his career,” DiMarco said. “But if he doesn’t chip in, it would have been one of Tiger’s worst losses.”
Lundquist, who will call his 31st Masters this week, and DiMarco, now a Golf Channel analyst, spoke with Masters.com about their memories of Woods’ miraculous chip-in.
“When the ball sat on the lip of the cup and finally tumbled in, I used all of my years of broadcasting excellence and came up with, ‘Wow!’” Lundquist said with a laugh. (Actually, it was this: “Here it comes … Oh, my goodness! … Oh, WOW! IN YOUR LIFE, have you seen anything like that?!”)
When Woods hit the chip, DiMarco, standing several paces behind and analyzing his 15-footer for birdie, figured Woods’ ball would stop eight feet or so from the cup.
“I started walking up and looked up … when it went in, it was like, OK, good shot, and I tried to focus on myself,” DiMarco said.
At that moment, Lundquist said, he glanced down at DiMarco.
“He was very nonchalant about it,” Lundquist said. “There was no emotion that showed on his face. No disappointment. He didn’t shrug his shoulders. There was almost nothing.”
DiMarco recalled congratulating Woods on hitting a great shot.
“I had to say it twice because it was so loud,” he said. DiMarco remembered Woods’ replying, “Yeah, thanks, thanks.”
The roar from the gallery seemed endless as it carried throughout the amphitheater surrounding No. 16.
“It was so loud,” DiMarco said. “And it should have been. It was one of the greatest shots in Masters history—and it was done by Tiger Woods.”
“Here it comes … Oh, my goodness! … Oh, WOW! IN YOUR LIFE, have you seen anything like that?!”
DiMarco had been trailing by one stroke, but he had the honors on the 16th tee following birdies at Nos. 14 and 15. After he knocked his shot to 15 feet, Woods airmailed his 8-iron, and as the two walked along the pond and heard the murmurs and cheers, it appeared that DiMarco at least would leave tied for the lead, if not ahead by one. Instead of a two-shot swing, Woods strode to the 17th tee ahead by two strokes.
DiMarco—and Woods—knew that Davis Love III had chipped in at No. 16 in 1999. DiMarco could see that Woods planned to play the slope and needed to account for about 20 feet of break.
“I knew Tiger would use the backstop,” DiMarco said. “It makes common sense. All the guys on Tour would have used the backstop; they wouldn’t have tried to do anything else. Did I think he was going to hit it close? No. He even said in his interview he was just trying to get it inside me.”
As he settled in for the shot, Woods stood near a tree several paces off the back of the green, staring at the shelf that divides No. 16’s famous slope. He said later that he aimed at a glint of sunlight shining through the pines that marked the spot where he wanted to land the ball.
“I think under the circumstances, it's one of the best I've ever hit, because it looks right there like it's the turning point,” Woods said.
“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,” he said. “All of a sudden, it looked pretty good, and all of a sudden it looked like really good. I read it right. A lot of it's luck, and I hit the spot, I hit it pretty good, and all of a sudden it went in, so it was pretty sweet.”
DiMarco said that if his tee ball had landed one yard farther on the green, it would have caught the slope, rolled left and nestled tight to the hole. Now, he faced a putt that had about a foot of break and bone-crushing pressure.
“I was prepared. I just didn’t make that putt,” he said.
“It is the most remarkable shot I’ve ever seen–the creativity in it, the belief that he could stop it that quickly, and have it turn right …” - Verne Lundquist
Lundquist said he gets asked often about the chip-in and the scene at perhaps golf’s grandest stage. He’s still astonished when he sees replays, but he recalled how the drama continued to build after the ball dropped.
“The guys in the truck, the discipline that they had, they didn’t show a replay for seven minutes,” Lundquist said. “They decided to go ahead and follow Chris DiMarco and let him complete play on the hole. They let the tension build. Everybody was thinking the same thing. … They honored DiMarco by doing that. I don’t remember how many replays we had after that, but we had some good ones.”
After his chip-in, Woods bogeyed the last two holes to fall into a playoff with DiMarco. He won with a birdie on the first playoff hole, sealing his fourth win at Augusta National. He has not won the Tournament since.
As Woods and DiMarco reached the second nine that Sunday, they distanced themselves from the field, creating a match-play duel down the stretch. They finished seven strokes clear of Luke Donald and Retief Goosen.
“I was playing as good as I’d ever played in my life,” DiMarco said. “Looking back, to perform at that highest level, beat the field by seven shots, and to do it under that kind of pressure and scrutiny, I’m fine with it. I didn’t lose that tournament. I just got beat.”
A mere 1.8 seconds that seemed like an eternity decided their fates. In a cruel twist, DiMarco also had a chip that would have claimed its place in Masters lore. At No. 18, the 72nd hole, with Woods reeling with a bogey, DiMarco had an uphill chip for birdie.
The ball hit the flagstick, and instead of dropping down, deflected 5 feet away.
“It wasn’t moving that fast when it hit the pin,” DiMarco said. “It looked like it was going to go in to me. I hit it exactly like I wanted to; it was right on line. I thought it was going to be really good.
“It just wasn’t my time.”