When the azaleas start blooming in April, and CBS announcer Jim Nantz starts talking about green jackets and Amen Corner, that can only mean one thing: The Masters is about to begin.
One of golf’s most tradition-rich events, the Masters is punctuated with tales of hope and heartbreak against the beautiful backdrop of Augusta National.
For the good—sometimes lucky—the story ends happily with the donning of a green jacket. For others who come oh so close to victory, the story continues the next year or maybe just simply ends.
In celebration of this “tradition unlike any other,” here are the Masters’ five most memorable moments as depicted on Sports Illustrated magazine‘s covers:
1. April 19, 2004, “Masterstroke: Mickelson Wins His First Major”: Based on the first 42 majors of his professional career, Phil Mickelson seemed destined for always-a-bridesmaid-never-a-bride status. Then came the 2004 Masters. The lovable lefty’s comfortable lead on Sunday was threatened by several bogeys that he turned around on the back nine. After making four of five birdies, including on 18, he won, and his jubilant moment made this cover.
2. April 16, 2001, “Masterpiece”: Love him or hate him, you have to admit Tiger Woods is a pretty talented golfer. After clinching the 2001 Masters, he became the first golfer to earn the “Tiger Slam.” Though not all won in the same calendar year, Tiger owned all four major titles at the same time. Just four years earlier in 1997, the 21-year-old became the youngest ever to don the green jacket. And like his performance, this cover is also a masterpiece.
3. April 22, 1996, “Agony at Augusta: Greg Norman”: The third time wasn’t a charm for the man known as “The Great White Shark.” After suffering back-to-back narrow defeats, Greg Norman had another chance at the 1996 Masters, but it ended without a green jacket as well. Englishman Nick Faldo put on a remarkable performance, shooting an impressive 67 in the final round. Though it didn’t come down to the final shot, it was another round of heartbreak for Norman, as shown here.
4. April 21, 1986, “One for the Ages: Jack Nicklaus Wins His Sixth Masters”: The Golden Bear set new records in 1972, with his record fifth Masters win, then broke his own record in 1986 with a record sixth, his 20th major championship. That year, Jack Nicklaus, at 46, also became the oldest ever winner in Augusta. His final round required some magic, but the old bear proved he still had it in him.
5. April 17, 1978, “What a Finish! Gary Player Wins the Masters”: The South African known as the “Black Knight” closed out the 1978 Masters with an unlikely win. Down seven shots, Gary Player summoned a championship performance to birdie seven of the final 10 holes, giving him a single-stroke lead over three players to earn his third green jacket and his final career major championship win.