5 Accidental Masters Tournament Champions

We all know about Jack Nicklaus’ 73 PGA Tour wins and six green jackets, and Tiger’s four and 80, but what about the Masters champions who won a single green jacket, and not much else.

Here are five (5) players who basically found lightning in a bottle for four days in April at Augusta National, and then did little of anything else in their playing careers.

In fact, excluding their lone Masters title, the fivesome combined for just eight additional PGA Tour wins, and just two total after becoming Masters’ champions.

1. Claude Harmon

MASTERS WIN: 1 (1948)
OTHER PGA TOUR WINS: 0

Cary Middlecoff, Bobby Jones And Claude Harmon
Cary Middlecoff, Bobby Jones And Claude Harmon at the Trophy Ceremony of the 1948 Masters Tournament. Photo by Augusta National/Getty Images

The 1948 Masters Tournament was the 12th Masters Tournament, held April 8–11 at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia.

Claude Harmon shot a record-tying 279 (−9) and finished five strokes ahead of runner-up Cary Middlecoff, a future champion in 1955. The Sunday gallery in 1948 was estimated at 10,000 spectators, and the tournament purse was $10,000. Harmon won $2,500 and his four-round score tied the record set by Ralph Guldahl in 1939.

A club professional, who never became a PGA Tour member, it was Harmon’s only tour victory. His son is famed golf instructor Butch Harmon.

2. Trevor Immelman

MASTERS WIN: 1 (2008)
OTHER PGA TOUR WINS: 1

Zach Johnson Trevor Immelman Masters
Zach Johnson puts the green jacket on Trevor Immelman during the Champions Ceremony at Augusta National GC on April 13, 2008, in Augusta, GA. Photo by Gerry Melendez/The State/MCT via Getty Images

The 2008 Masters Tournament was the 72nd Masters Tournament, held April 10–13 at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia. A 29-year old Trevor Immelman entered the tournament ranked 29th in the world, yet he’d missed half the cuts (4) of his eight starts on the 2008 season, finishing just once (T17, Accenture Match Play) in the top-20.

The South African, though, caught fire at the right time, and won his first and only major title, three strokes ahead of runner-up Tiger Woods. After that magical weekend in Georgia, due to a combination of injuries and poor form, Immelman never won again on the PGA Tour, and eventually lost his playing privileges after his Masters exemption ended.

3. Tommy Aaron

MASTERS WIN: 1 (1973)
OTHER PGA TOUR WINS: 2

Tommy Aaron 1973 Masters Jack Nicklaus
Tommy Aaron is presented the Masters green coat by defending champion Jack Nicklaus after winning the 1973 Masters. Credit: Getty Images

The 1973 Masters Tournament was the 37th Masters Tournament, held April 5–9 at the Augusta National Golf Club. Due to weather delays, the final round was played on Monday for the first time since 1961.

Tommy Aaron, age 36, won his only major title, one stroke ahead of runner-up J. C. Snead. Before this win at Augusta, Aaron was best known as the player who kept Roberto DeVicenzo’s incorrect scorecard at the Masters five years earlier in 1968.

This was his third and final victory on the PGA Tour, and after this win, Aaron’s best result in a major was a T28 at the Masters in 1979.

4. Charles Coody

MASTERS WIN: 1 (1971)
OTHER PGA TOUR WINS: 2

Billy Casper Charles Coody Masters
Billy Casper presents Charles Coody with the green jacket after the 1971 Masters Tournament. Photo by Augusta National/Getty Images

The 1971 Masters Tournament was the 35th Masters Tournament, held April 8–11 at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia. Charles Coody won his only major championship, two strokes ahead of runners-up Johnny Miller and Jack Nicklaus.

It was Coody’s third and final win of his PGA Tour career.

5. Larry Mize

MASTERS WIN: 1 (1987)
OTHER PGA TOUR WINS: 3

Jack Nicklaus Larry Mize Masters
Jack Nicklaus helps Larry Mize into his green jacket after winning the Masters in 1987. Credit: David Cannon /Allsport

The 1987 Masters Tournament was the 51st Masters Tournament, held April 9−12 at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia.

Larry Mize, a native of Augusta, won his only major championship in a sudden-death playoff over Greg Norman and Seve Ballesteros – best known for a hole-out chip shot on the second playoff hole.

It was Mize’s only major title, and second PGA Tour victory. He is the only one of the five to win again after becoming a Masters champion, both coming in a bounce-back 1993 season.

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