Larry Mize was born in Augusta, Georgia. As a teenager, he operated the large manual scoreboard that overlooks Augusta National’s third green. Then the local kid won the Masters with one of the most memorable shots in the tournament’s history.
From 140 feet away, Mize chipped in on the 11th hole to win a playoff over two Hall of Famers, Greg Norman and Seve Ballesteros.
Mize may be 59, but he’s made the cut in three of the past four Masters. He’s teeing it up at Augusta National again this week, as well. Read below as the Straight Down ambassador shares some of his favorite memories from the year’s first major.
“My favorite thing about being a Masters champion? Getting to come back every year. That’s incredible. The Champions Dinner on Tuesday night is very special. It’s such a privilege to be in there with such great champions. One time I got to drive Gene Sarazen back to his hotel after dinner. Getting to know these great champions and spend time with them and hear some of their great stories, it’s just such an exciting and a special night.”
“Augusta National has the wedge I used for the chip-in. That’s where it needs to be. The 1987 Masters was the very first week I used that club. Augusta National writes you a letter asking for a club that was instrumental in your victory, but they understand that you get attached to clubs and they’re willing to wait. I used that wedge for about a year-and-a-half until I wore the grooves down. It was a Jack Nicklaus Muirfield sand wedge.”
“Jack Nicklaus was my favorite golfer growing up. For him to win it at age 46 in 1986 with his son caddying for him was very special. It was a great victory for him and it was a great victory for me because it meant that he put the green jacket on me the next year. There was no one else I would’ve picked to put the jacket on me. It can’t get any better than that. He said, ‘Well done, champion.’”
“I’m flattered when guys want to pick my brain about playing Augusta National. I love to help them. I have a practice round scheduled with the U.S. Mid-Amateur champion. I’m happy to do it because there’s a lot of local knowledge about Augusta National. There’s just certain places to avoid. For example, on No. 1, you just don’t want to fool with the left side of that green. It’s a very hard-up-and-down. But if you miss it right of the green it’s a relatively simple shot.”
“You want to miss right of the 11th green. There’s no doubt about that. I’ve never hit that chip shot again, though. I hit it that one time to win and I’ve never been back. I want to keep it a pure memory.”