His second shot on the par-5 13th was a long iron to within 18 feet. He made the putt for eagle. His pitching wedge on the par-4 14th flew past the hole, spun back and dropped in. Another eagle. After birdieing 15, he hit "probably my best shot of the week" at the par-3 16th—a high, cut six-iron that stopped 2½ feet past the hole. Another bird. By this time the Michiganders in his gallery were getting loud. Pohl parred the last two holes, matching Stadler's 67. By playing 13, 14, 15 and 16 in six under, Pohl set a Masters record for a four-hole stretch that still stands.
Yet none of it mattered, really, because Stadler pulled away on Sunday, making his way to the 10th tee with a six-shot lead over Ballesteros, Weiskopf, Tom Kite and the fellow who didn't seem to belong in that illustrious company. As Stadler's then wife, Sue, said to a friend on the course, "Isn't it nice that Dan Pohl is playing so well?"
Indeed, during a bogey-free round Pohl had five more birdies on his way to another 67. Weiskopf blew up with two triples. Ballesteros and Kite failed to charge. Playing three groups behind him, Pohl recalls, "Stads started dripping oil."
Through 11 holes the Walrus was four up. When he made his third bogey in five holes at the 16th, his lead had dwindled to one over Pohl, who was in the clubhouse at four under.
Pohl still couldn't quite convince himself he might win this thing. After parring 17, the Walrus needed only a par at the final hole. But as Dan Jenkins wrote in that week's SI, his 30-foot downhill putt "was uglier than his golf bag back in 1979 when it advertised Taylor's Prime Steaks." Stadler's six-footer for par "didn't even scare the cup."
Sitting at the edge of the practice green with his Michigan crew, Pohl heard a loud, mournful OOOoooooh, from the direction of the 18th green. He reached for his golf glove.
He had been chatting with his family, doing a little putting. "Then all of a sudden," he says, "I was over on the 10th tee for a playoff."
Number 10, a.k.a. Camellia, then a 485-yard par-4, is historically one of the toughest holes at Augusta National. Players must hit a second shot—often from a downhill lie—into a long, narrow, elevated green. Both men hit driver, six-iron. Stadler slightly chunked his second shot but got lucky: His ball went straight at the flag, stopping below the hole in the middle of the green. Pohl's second shot settled "on a little moundy area," he says, on the right edge of the green, 30 feet from the hole. Stadler rolled his putt to tap-in range. Thoroughly flummoxed by the mound, Pohl left himself an eight-footer, which he pulled. "I tried to jam it in and simply didn't make it," he says, his voice trailing off.
"Would Johnny Miller say I choked my guts out?" he asks now. "Probably. Because that's the kind of thing he says." Pohl would beg to differ. Choking means losing control of one's nerves and emotions, he points out, "and that never happened to me."
"To this day, considering the way I played Saturday and Sunday, I have no gripes," he says. In fact Pohl's weekend total of 134 was four shots better than anyone else's in the field. He was one of only four players to shoot under 140 over the final two rounds. "I had nothing to be disappointed about, nothing to be demoralized about," he adds.