"I think," wrote Bobby Jones not too long ago, "that the tournament is now quite well entitled to be called the Masters, because it has continued to assemble those who are entitled to be called masters of the game. I must admit though, the name was born of a touch of immodesty." It may have been immodest to give his tournament such an aristocratic title when he started it back in 1934, but Jones was attempting a comeback and he knew his presence meant that the country's finest pros would come to Augusta to try to outplay him. They did come, and 12 of them did beat him in that first Masters, but as they left, Jones told them, "I hope you'll be back."
Year after year they have come back, as this array of photographs made at last year's Masters shows, and their very presence has added immeasurably to the pleasure and prestige of the event that is literally named for them. Part of the excitement of having them there is that they bring back memories to the gallery—and to themselves. Can Craig Wood see Gene Sarazen without recalling their playoff in 1935? That was when Wood consistently outdrove Sarazen, only to have Gene hit approaches inches from the pin. Each time the bouncy Sarazen would give Wood a look that said, "See if you can trump that." Craig couldn't, and he lost. "You walk the course and to this day you remember every shot, every lie of a winning round," Ralph Guldahl says.
What Byron Nelson will never forget is the 1942 playoff when he beat Ben Hogan. "The night before, my stomach had a nervous fit. I couldn't eat breakfast, and I was sick. Hogan came to me and said, 'We'll just postpone it.' 'No, Ben,' I told him, 'let's play.' This wasn't as noble of me as you might think. This upset-stomach business had happened to me before, and every time I had played rather well. I staggered to the course and sliced my first drive into the trees. But somewhere around the 5th hole I suddenly felt strong as could be. I started playing the best golf of my career." As one might suspect, what debonair Jimmy Demaret recalls is the outfit he wore every time he won. "You should have seen me during the first round in 1940," he says. "I missed the 15th green, and my ball went into the pond, I removed my red-and-blue suede shoes, rolled my chartreuse slacks up to my knees, stepped into two feet of water and hit the ball onto the green."
Jimmy Demaret dresses more quietly now, Byron Nelson can't beat Ben Hogan, and Gene Sarazen does not taunt Craig Wood. But they all still come to Augusta. "Here," says Hogan, "we can get together and we can reminisce."
April 5, 1965
The first twosome off the tee at the Masters always includes tartan-topped Freddie McLeod, and the sight of the 82-year-old 1908 U.S. Open winner swinging in the Georgia morning has come to typify Augusta's traditions.
Paired with McLeod is Jock Hutchison (right), fellow Scotsman, former PGA and British Open champion and a man who, at 80, still putts well enough to draw oohs of awe from the early-rising gallery that follows him.
Craig Wood, runner-up in the first two Masters, claimed "it takes a pretty good guy to be second best." Finally, in 1941, he rediscovered his putting stroke—not the one above—and triumphed at Augusta.
Ralph Guldahl, Masters champion in 1939, slowed play by stopping often to comb his hair. "That is how I steadied my nerves," he says. Now, with no victory worries, he wears a cap.
Gene Sarazen, ever-splendid in plus fours, cost Wood the 1935 Masters. Wood was accepting congratulations before movie cameras when Sarazen double-eagled 15, came on to tie and won the playoff.
Byron Nelson has the look of an old eagle now, but it was eagles he used to shoot at Augusta. In one 11-hole stretch in a playoff against Hogan, Nelson gained five strokes. Ben had played the holes one under par.
Jimmy Demaret, winner of three Masters, has said, "If you're going to be in the limelight, dress for it." He won in salmon pink, in chartreuse and brown, and once—on a glorious Easter—in canary yellow.