Five unbreakable Masters records

Profile Picture: Josh Powell

April 6th, 2021

Golf fans rejoice – the greatest tournament of the year is right around the corner. The Masters at Augusta is one of the most iconic sporting occasions, and the green jacket that Dustin Johnson donned last November is now waiting for a new home.

As we count down the days to tee-off, here are five incredible Masters records that may never be broken.

5. Lowest 72-hole Score: 268 (Dustin Johnson, 2020)

DJ blew away the field at Augusta in November, winning by five shots in a history-making 20-under-par. That beat the tournament record of 18-under-par which had stood for 23 years and was held by Tiger Woods from 1997 and equalled by Jordan Spieth in 2015.

The reason this record may never be broken owes a lot to the change of date last year. For whatever reason, the course appeared to play a lot easier in November. Not only did DJ shoot the lowest 72-hole score in tournament history, but he also became the only man to shoot two rounds of 65 in the same tournament. Cameron Smith, who finished second, became the first man ever to shoot all four rounds in the 60s.

That all suggests that November threw up some easier conditions, and now back in its usual April slot, getting to 21-under-par looks incredibly unlikely.

4. Most Consecutive Birdies: 7 (Steve Pate, 1999 and Tiger Woods, 2005)

To hole seven birdies in a row during a single round at Augusta is simply staggering and has only ever been done twice in Masters history. There is lots to consider here – not least how difficult some of the holes are. The par-3 fourth hole is packed with danger and historically plays as the third hardest hole on the course, and that can put the brakes on any hot starts very quickly. If you do warm up the clubs on the first nine, the 10th and 11th holes are the toughest two at Augusta. And let's not forget about Amen Corner.

Incredibly, both Tiger Woods and Steve Pate knocked in seven birdies in a row, and both golfers started their streak on hole 7. In round 3 in 1999, Steve Pate shot seven birdies in a row before making par on the final five holes as he finished fourth. That record was matched by Tiger in 2005, also starting with a birdie on hole 7 in round 3. Tiger’s streak ended when he bogeyed the 14th.

To give you some idea of how difficult this is, Dustin Johnson managed just three birdies in a row on his way to a record-breaking 20-under-par in 2020. Only four other players have managed to hit six birdies in a row at Augusta in tournament history, so expecting someone to hit eight is incredibly unlikely.

3. Widest Margin of Victory: 12 Strokes (Tiger Woods, 1997)

In the last 120 years only one man has won a golf Major by more than 10 strokes. And that man is the game’s GOAT – Tiger Woods. Tiger won the 2000 U.S. Open by a record-breaking 15 strokes, and in 1997 he won the Masters by 12 strokes on his way to his first green jacket.

Tiger demolished the field and surpassed Jack Nicklaus’ nine-shot winning margin which had held the record for more than three decades. It’s hard to see this record ever being beaten, firstly because of how competitive the sport is currently, but also because we may never see someone rule like Tiger Woods did again. This was the first of Tiger’s 15 Majors, and set the scene for almost a decade of dominance.

DJ’s five-stroke win was the first time in 22 years that the Masters was won by more than four strokes, which shows how close this tournament usually is.

2. Biggest Comeback after 54 Holes: 8 Strokes (Jack Burke Jr., 1956)

A record that has stood for more than 65 years is Jack Burke Jr.’s final round comeback in 1956. Burke sat in a tie for fourth ahead of Sunday’s final round on a score of 2-over-par, with amateur Ken Venturi leading the way on 6-under-par after an incredible 66 in round one.

Burke shot a score of 71 on Sunday, which was one-under-par, and he was only one of two players to break par in the final round. Meanwhile, Venturi had an absolute meltdown, bogeying six of the last nine holes to throw away his lead and lose by a single stroke.

Burke’s final tournament total of 289 remains the highest winning total in Masters history, but more notably his eight-stroke comeback may never be beaten.

In recent memory, Greg Norman throwing away a six-stroke lead to lose by five strokes to Nick Faldo in 1996 is one of the biggest Augusta meltdowns, but nothing touches Burke’s epic comeback.

1. Number of Attempts Before First Victory: 19 (Sergio Garcia, 2017)

Sergio Garcia’s 2017 Masters win was a heartwarming story as the Spaniard donned the green jacket for the first time in his 19th appearance at Augusta. It was also the first time he had won a Major in 74 attempts, after 22 top 10 finishes and plenty of heartbreak.

On average, it takes a player six attempts to win a green jacket, with Horton Smith (1934), Gene Sarazen (1935) and Fuzzy Zoeller (1979) the only three men to win their debut. Eight players have won on their third attempt, and eight players have won on their fourth attempt, which are the most common Augusta appearances before success.

Sergio Garcia’s 19 appearances are well above the average, and the closest to him is Mark O'Meara, who made 15 appearances before winning in 1998.