April marks the arrival of what golf fans know as “A Tradition Unlike Any Other,” the phrase the legendary Jim Nantz has used to describe the annual spectacle known as The Masters.
It’s been close to a century since Augusta National Golf Club officially opened for business in 1932, and two years later, the first iteration of the tournament that would eventually become one of golf’s four majors (along with the U.S. Open, British Open, and PGA Championship) was played on that hallowed ground.
The golfers who are invited to The Masters belong to the elite group of individuals that will get the chance to play at Augusta National, which sees upwards of two million people apply for the chance to be a part of the gallery that’s allowed to roam the exclusive country club on a yearly basis.
The course itself is a stunningly gorgeous tract carved out in the Georgia countryside that boasts a number of features with the potential to ruin a player’s round, including its signature pine straw, impeccably manicured bunkers, and the creek that runs in front of the green at the 12th hole.
Those obstacles (and other challenges) have spoiled plenty of otherwise good walks over the years, but there are also plenty of people who’ve been able to deftly navigate the links over the course of the tournament—including those who can say they’ve mastered The Masters unlike anyone else.
These are the lowest scores ever recorded at The Masters
When the inaugural edition of the now-iconic tournament was held in 1934, Horton Smith walked away as its first champion thanks to the -4 he posted over the course of the first four rounds.
It took close to two decades for someone to finish with a double-digit score under par, which is what Ben Hogan was able to do when he secured his second green jacket in the span of three years after finishing at -14.
In 1965, Jack Nicklaus saw and raised The Hawk by earning his second win at The Masters with a 17-under performance that made The Golden Bear the new man to beat.
Raymond Floyd was able to tie that mark during his victory at Augusta in 1976, but no one was able to surpass it until Tiger Woods announced his grand arrival in 1997 with the -18 that capped off a truly dominant performance that saw him beat runner-up Tom Kite by a whopping 12 strokes.
However, no one has been able to bring Augusta to its knees quite like Dustin Johnson, who holds the record for the best cumulative score at The Masters thanks to the four stellar rounds that culminated in the -20 that allowed him to win at Augusta for the first time in 2020.
While consistent play tends to be one of the biggest factors when it comes to winning this particular event, some golfers have managed to steal the show based on their performance in a single round.
As things currently stand, there are two people who can boast about having the best round in the history of The Masters.
The first is Nick Price, who seemed like he’d be in danger of missing the cut after posting a 79 in his first round in 1986. He was able to bounce back a bit on Friday with the 69 that moved him down to +4, which was enough to earn the right to play the weekend (albeit by a single stroke).
Price bogeyed the first hole on Saturday, but he rebounded by posting a grand total of 10 birdies en route to heading to the clubhouse with a record-low nine-under 63 on his scorecard (he could have shot a 62 if he hadn’t lipped his second-to-last putt on the 18th hole).
Another golfer was able to join his ranks a decade later in the form of Greg Norman, who added to his legacy (one that’s become increasingly tarnished thanks to his involvement with LIV Golf) in 1996.
The Shark kicked off that tournament with a bang by posting nine birdies in a bogey-free opening round where he became the second player to notch a 63 at The Masters.
That stellar showing helped him head into Sunday with a six-shot lead over Nick Faldo, but he choked in historic fashion with the six-over 78 that handed the tournament to the Englishman.
As things currently stand, Price and Norman are tied for the lowest single-round score at The Masters—but there’s always a chance someone else could join their ranks or even outdo them in the future.