SI Vault
Myra Gelband
April 14, 1980
So thought Ed Sneed. He led the '79 Masters by three strokes with three holes left. Then the nightmare began
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April 14, 1980

'impossible Not To Win'

So thought Ed Sneed. He led the '79 Masters by three strokes with three holes left. Then the nightmare began

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A gasp escaped the gallery. Sneed bent over and studied the ball, which was perched precariously, overhanging the hole. But it was not to fall. Finally he tapped in for his bogey, a last-round 76 and the same eight-under-par total as Watson and Zoeller, who had finished in time to watch Sneed falter.

After he had checked over and signed his scorecard, Sneed was asked by Black if he wanted a few minutes to compose himself. He declined. The playoff was to begin immediately on the adjacent 10th hole, a demanding 485-yard par-4 with its green raised above the valley of the fairway and shaded almost entirely by tall pines. Sneed won the coin toss and hit first, Watson next and Zoeller last. All hit good drives and all three put their second shots within 12 feet of the flag.

"Fuzzy's putt missed, and I could redeem myself with my 10-footer. My caddie told me it would break slightly right. I thought it would go straight or slightly left, and although I had consulted him on a good number of putts that week and had confidence in him, I just couldn't make myself play the ball out of the hole as Bill suggested. I putted for the left center of the cup and the ball slid by on the right.

"Watson missed. I was still alive.

"We all hit good drives at 11, Fuzzy's being much longer than Tom's or mine. I had to play over the corner of the pond from about 185 yards, downhill with a wind blowing slightly in my face. Because of the wind I chose a five-iron instead of a six. The scouting report says always play to the right side of the green to avoid the water. But in a three-way playoff you have to throw away that chapter. I thought I hit it stiff, but it was long and I was bunkered.

"Tom and Fuzzy hit great shots, but their putts were by no means automatic and I thought if I could save par we could go play No. 12 again.

"Some people think I tried to hole that bunker shot, because it almost went in. Under any circumstances it was a remarkable shot, but I was only trying to get close enough to make four, and it stopped 15 inches from the hole.

"Tom's putt was on line but a bit short. Then Fuzzy putted, and for a moment as I watched the ball roll into the cup, I couldn't believe it had happened. It was like having the wind knocked out of me. The tension was suddenly gone.

"The shadows were long as I rode in the cart back toward the clubhouse. It was very cold.

"I was bewildered, not bitter or full of self-pity. I knew in my heart I had outplayed and outsmarted the held, but I didn't feel very smart at 6 o'clock that Sunday afternoon.

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