Azinger Wins The Memorial with Miracle Shot
On this day, In 1993 Paul Azinger holed out at the Memorial Tournament out of the sand on the 18th hole to steal the title from close friend Payne Stewart. On the final back nine at Muirfield Village, it was essentially a two man duel between Stewart and Azinger. Stewart birdied the 11th to regain the lead, and maintained it with another from 6 feet on the par-5 15th. Both missed makable birdie putts on the next two holes, setting up the final act on the 437-yard 18th.
Both drove safely with 1-irons, but Azinger’s shot landed on soft ground and stopped immediately. It left him a difficult 205-yard approach, and he pulled his 5-iron just enough to land in the bunker.
With a chance to close the door, Stewart caught some bad luck when his tee shot stopped in a shallow divot. He then caught his 7-iron shot from 173 yards slightly fat. The ball failed to carry the bunker that Azinger’s ball was lying in, and worse, buried when it landed. Stewart exploded his ball from he bunker to 8 feet, and now it was Azinger’s turn. Initially it looked like he fluffed the shot, but the ball appears from thin air and is heading straight for the cup. IT GOES IN. Azinger is brought to his knee’s in the sand bunker in jubilation.
Said the tournament host, Jack Nicklaus, who knows every shot on the course he built: “That bunker shot is so hard it would be difficult to get it close if you could toss the ball underhanded at the hole.”
Stewart was shocked at what had just happened and proceeded to miss his 8 footer to tie, then lipped out of a 3 footer to drop to solo third place.
The victory, the ninth of Azinger’s career, extended his streak of at least one victory a year to seven, longest of anyone on the tour at that time. He had won the 1989 Canon Greater Hartford Open by chipping in from the fringe on the final hole, but what he did at the conclusion of the 1993 Memorial, he will remember forever.