As Mariano Rivera made the trip from the bullpen to the pitching mound at Citi Field in the top of the 8th inning in the 2013 All-Star Game, the stage was quite literally cleared for the Sandman’s last appearance in the Mid-summer Classic.
Those kinds of moments are rare, but in the last decade, golf has had its share of emotional goodbyes. Unlike Rivera’s last relief appearance, none ended in victory, but for all, they ended in a different kind of win that makes golf so special.
We look at three of the emotional competitive farewells in recent memory.
Jack Nicklaus at the Home of Golf in 2005
Jack Nicklaus decided the ’05 Open Championship at St. Andrews was to be his farewell. The Golden Bear didn’t make the cut, but he began and ended his 36-hole run that week with birdies. The entire final hole — all 11 minutes of it — is a great watch.
Tom watson and Bruce Edwards one last time in 2003
At the 2003 U.S. Open at Olympia Fields, Tom Watson and his long-time caddie Bruce Edwards enjoyed one final special round together. Edwards, who was dying from ALS, was on the bag as Tom Watson carded 5-under 65 to electrify the Chicago crowd as he took a share of the Day 1 lead with Brett Quigley. The following April, Edwards died.
Greg Norman with one last tease at Birkdale in 2008
There was no reason to believe Greg Norman would even make the cut at Birkdale in the 2008 Open Championship. But he did. He even took the 54-hole lead. While he didn’t get the job done and he played in the Open in ’09, this was Norman’s last major tease.
The King’s farewell to the Masters
Arnold Palmer won the Masters four times in 49 tries and, arguably, is its most important champion. In 2004, he called it quits on the 50th try at Augusta National. He shot a pair of 84s to miss the cut, but his reception at the 18th hole on Friday was incredible. In a news conference afterward, Palmer broke down crying reflecting on the end of his Masters career.
Ms. 59 ends her U.S. Women’s Open career with an eagle
Annika Sorenstam’s 2008 farewell tour had arguably its most memorable moment in her final shot at Interlachen to close the U.S. Women’s Open with a hole-out for eagle.