Five Canadian Masters Moments

Within two years of its founding, the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia welcomed a field for the first Augusta National Invitation Tournament. That name was used for five years until “The Masters” was adopted in 1940 when it began it’s traditional April spot on the schedule.

For that first tournament that started on March 22, 1934, Canada’s Charles Ross “Sandy” Somerville was in the field. Eventually a 6-time winner of the Canadian Men’s Amateur Championship, his tie for 42nd place after rounds of 82-78-74-77 did not make many headlines but it was start of a Canadian connection to what was become a hallmark golf championship throughout the world.

Here are a few notable Canadian-related moments in the history of The Masters.

  1. The Top Ten – In 1955, Stan Leonard became the first Canadian player to finish within the top-ten at The Masters. Leonard, who had joined the PGA TOUR full-time the year before at age 39, had an auspicious start to his week with a score of 77 in round one. He turned it all around in the third round when his score of 68 was the best of the day. His final total of 292 was one better than Arnold Palmer and Bryon Nelson and earned him a tie for 9th place…and $813 in prize money.
  2. Historic Ace – In the aforementioned 1934 Masters, Sandy Somerville may not have had a high finish but the career amateur had an all-time moment. The 1932 United States Amateur Champion from London, Ontario recorded the very first hole in one in tournament history. In the second round he aced the 7th hole (now the 16th) known to many as Redbud, as home to many other memorable championship moments.
  3. The Win – There was no bigger moment in Masters history for Canada than Mike Weir’s iconic victory in 2003. In doing so he became the first Canadian to win the title, and the first left-handed player. He paved the way for fellow lefties Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson to follow. Weir was bogey-free in the final round, capped by a lengthy par putt on the 18th that ensured a spot in a playoff where he prevailed. This year will mark his 23rd appearance in Augusta. He also tied for 5th in 2005 and most recently made the cut in 2020.
  4. Another Ace – As he prepares to play his 5th Masters, Corey Conners already has had some highlight moments. His consecutive top-ten finishes are notable but it was in last year’s championship that he drew wild reaction. In that appearance where he tied for 8th, he became just the sixth player to record a hole in one, a single shot triumph over the 6th hole. It would also lead to a commemorative donut being created by a famous coffee chain and served in his hometown of Listowel, Ontario.
  5. The Skip – Many claim it but all roads lead back to Canada’s Gary Cowan as the player who started the tradition of skipping a golf ball across the pond on the 16th hole during practice rounds in attempt to reach the green. Cowan, the two-time U.S. Amateur champion and an eight time Masters participant, says he started it all in 1972. The story is that Cowan used to play around with shots like that as a kid and felt compelled to try it as he played a practice round with Ben Crenshaw. Cowan managed to traverse the pond with a 3-iron and Crenshaw failed in his attempt to replicate it.

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