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The Masters alternative finishes: Six different outcomes at Augusta

The Masters has produced some of golf’s most unforgettable moments through the years, but what if those key shots had played out differently at Augusta National?

Tiger Woods heads into the 2020 contest as defending champion after last year’s one-shot victory, with the five-time Masters champion having already created plenty of history at Augusta.

The tournament is traditionally the opening men’s major of the year but rounds off a condensed 2020 major schedule due to the coronavirus pandemic, with the previous 83 editions seeing many dramatic finishes, incredible shots and back-nine turning points.

We’ve delved into the archives to take a look back at some of those pivotal shots in determining who has got to wear the Green Jacket, recreating Augusta history to offer six alternative finishes to The Masters…

What if…Seve Ballesteros hadn’t found the water?

The 1986 contest is always remembered for being Jack Nicklaus’ sixth Masters victory and the last of his 18 major titles, although things could’ve been very different had it not been for Seve Ballesteros’ late mistakes.

Ballesteros topped the leaderboard with four holes to play and appeared to be closing in on a third Green Jacket, only for him to hook his approach from the middle of the fairway into water at the par-five 15th and make a costly bogey.

Had Ballesteros found the green in two and replicated his eagle at the previous par-five 13th, or even got down in two for a birdie, he would’ve extended his advantage going into the closing three holes. Instead, Nicklaus came home in 30 to claim a one-shot win and Ballesteros finished in fourth spot.

What if…Fred Couples’ ball hadn’t stayed up?

Couples claimed his only major success at the 1992 Masters, with the World Golf Hall of Fame star needing what he described as the biggest break of his life to claim the Green Jacket.

The American took a two-shot advantage into the par-three 12th, where his tee shot appeared destined for Rae’s Creek before miraculously staying up on the grass bank and allowed him to get up and down to salvage a par.

If the ball had rolled into the hazard as expected, then Couples would’ve been staring at a bogey at best and Raymond Floyd would’ve been in with an increased chance of becoming the oldest major champion. The outcome saw Floyd having to settle for second, as Couples claimed a two-stroke win.

What if…Tiger Woods’ chip hadn’t dropped?

Woods celebrated the fourth of his five Masters victories during the 2005 contest, but the outcome could have been very different had it not been for arguably golf’s greatest chip-in.

Chris DiMarco was one behind at the par-three 16th and looked like he may have chance to pull level, only for Woods’ iconic chip from the back rough to pitch 20 feet left of the hole and perfectly feed down the slope and trickle into the cup.

The ball initially stopped on the lip of the hole and had it stayed there, a par followed by Woods’ bogey-bogey finish could’ve seen DiMarco crowned Masters champion. It wasn’t to be for DiMarco, with Woods’ birdie enough to force extra holes on his way to a ninth major title.

What if…Phil Mickelson failed from the pines?

Mickelson registered the most recent of his three Masters victories in 2010, with one incredible brave shot during his back nine helping secure that success at Augusta National.

He had tugged his drive into the famous pines at the par-five 13th, before risking going through a narrow gap in the trees to clear Rae’s Creek and find the putting the surface from the pine straw.

Had the shot not cleared the hazard then it may have been Lee Westwood’s opportunity for a major breakthrough, but instead, Mickelson made a two-putt birdie on his way to a three-shot win.

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November 12, 2020, 10:30pm

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What if…Rory McIlroy’s ball had bounced better?

The Northern Irishman is still searching for an elusive Masters victory to complete golf’s career Grand Slam, although that wait could’ve been a lot shorter if wasn’t for a nightmare hole in the 2011 contest.

McIlroy took a four-shot lead into the final day and was still in pole position heading to the turn, only to rack up a triple-bogey at the par-four 10th after hooking his tee shot into the trees.

A more favourable bounce may have seen him able to limit the damage and avoid the subsequent meltdown, where six shots were dropped in three holes, but instead, Charl Schwartzel produced a four-birdie finish to claim a one-shot win and McIlroy ended the week in tied-15th.

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November 12, 2020, 6:00pm

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What if…Sergio Garcia’s ball had hit the pin?

Garcia secured a long-awaited major breakthrough with a play-off victory over Justin Rose in 2017, with one key shot the turning point in switching the momentum the Spaniard’s way.

A birdie at the 14th was followed by a stunning eagle at the par-five next, where Garcia’s approach pitched inches from the flag before finish 12 feet from the cup, helping him finish alongside Rose on nine under.

Had the approach rattled the flag then it could’ve easily rolled into the hazard, as his ball would five times during the opening round of his title defence a year later. Thankfully for Garcia, that didn’t happen and he would go on to celebrate becoming Spain’s third Masters champion.

Watch The Masters this November live on Sky Sports, with all four rounds exclusively live on Sky Sports’ Masters channel. Live coverage beings with Featured Groups from 12.30pm on Thursday November 12.

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