Golfers Who Won The Masters in Their First Appearance

Gene Sarazen won The Masters in his first appearance

Have any golfers won The Masters Tournament — one of the major championships of men's pro golf and probably the most famous golf tournament going — the very first time they played in the tournament? Yes.

Winning The Masters on the first try is something that has happened three times in tournament history. But the most-recent time it happened was back in the 1970s.

These are the golfers who won The Masters in their first appearance:

Horton Smith, 1934

The 1934 Masters was the first time the tournament was played. So, obviously, everyone was playing it for the first time. The winner was going to be on this list no matter who that winner was.

But the guy who did win it was Horton Smith. So he goes down in history as not only first first Masters champ, but also the first golfer on this list of those who won The Masters in their first attempt. Smith won again at the 1936 Masters, which also makes him the first-two Masters champ.

Gene Sarazen, 1935

Sarazen (pictured above), one of the biggest stars in golf in the 1920s and 1930s, didn't play in the inaugural Masters, but he did show up in Year 2. And at that 1935 Masters, Sarazen pulled off a shot that remains today among the most famous in golf history.

On the 15th hole in the final round, trailing clubhouse leader Craig Wood by three, Sarazen struck a 4-wood that hit the green and rolled right into the cup: a double eagle, and he was tied for the lead in one swing. Sarazen wound up in a playoff with Wood, which Sarazen won by five strokes.

It was the seventh and final major championship win for Sarazen, and it completed the Career Grand Slam for him. In fact, Sarazen was the first golfer to complete the Career Grand Slam.

Fuzzy Zoeller, 1979

It was another 34 years after Sarazen's win before another first-time Masters player won the Green Jacket. Zoeller pulled it off at the 1979 Masters and, like Sarazen, had to go to a playoff to do it.

The three-man playoff also included Ed Sneed and Tom Watson. After all three parred the first playoff hole, Zoeller won with a birdie on the second extra hole. It was just the second overall win of Zoeller's pro career.

More notes: How many golfers have won on their second attempt? Right now that number stands at five: Jimmy Demaret in 1940, Herman Keiser in 1946, Charl Schwartzel in 2011, Jordan Spieth in 2015 and Danny Willett in 2016. Spieth, by the way, won The Masters in his second appearance after finishing tied for second place in his first appearance.

Tiger Woods won The Masters in his third appearance, Arnold Palmer in his fourth, Jack Nicklaus in his fifth, and Phil Mickelson in his 12th.

And which Masters champ holds the record for most appearances before his first win? Sergio Garcia, in 2017, won in his 19th try.

Photo credit: State Library of Queensland, Australia, No restrictions, via Wikimedia Commons

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