AUGUSTA, Ga. – Tommy Aaron sat in Butler Cabin and dreaded the thought of a playoff.
The 1973 Masters Tournament was already in its fifth day. Rainy weather washed out Saturday’s penultimate round at Augusta National Golf Club, forcing a Monday finish. And it would be another three years before the Masters adopted a sudden death playoff, meaning another 18 holes awaited Tuesday if J.C. Snead played the 17th and 18th holes at 1-under par. Aaron watched helplessly as Snead chased a tournament-tying birdie.
“If you’re in contention four or five days there, walking that course under the stress, it’s exhausting,” Aaron said. “I thought I’d better get ready to play another 18 holes.”
Tommy Aaron (right) watches J.C. Snead (left) on the closing stretch of the 1973 Masters (Screenshot: Masters YouTube channel).
Although a potential playoff loomed overhead, Aaron was on the verge of a stunning victory, one with a backstory rivaling even the unlikeliest among the lauded collection of men who slipped on the green jacket.
For starters, Aaron was born in 1937 in Gainesville, Ga., a town of just under 10,000 residents at the time. It grew to nearly 12,000 by the time Aaron’s father took a job at a General