'They're 1A and 1B': Lundquist ending CBS career, forever remembered for iconic Masters calls

Apr. 12—Verne Lundquist has spent countless hours calling golf action and has delivered thousands of words from a broadcast booth perched high in the air.

But his memorable career can be boiled down to 12 words that most golf fans have heard a time or two, or even said themselves while playing the game.

"Maybe .... Yes sir!" Lundquist famously said in the final round of the 1986 Masters as Jack Nicklaus sank a birdie putt on the 71st hole.

"In your life ... have you seen anything like that?" Lundquist said at the 2005 Masters as Tiger Woods' golf ball hung on the lip before tumbling into the cup.

Both of those calls have linked Lundquist to the history of the Masters. And, on the occasion of his 40th Masters for CBS, this weekend will be his final broadcast.

"It will be emotional," Lundquist said on a conference call with reporters earlier this month. "It's the best run tournament in captivity. It's on the best golf course, in my view, in America if not the world. I've gotten so many wonderful memories tied up with our visits to Augusta."

'Maybe ... Yes sir!'

Lundquist was assigned to the 17th hole at Augusta National in 1986. He had joined the CBS team in 1982 and was part of the Masters broadcast a year later.

The 50th Masters was already shaping up to be a memorable one. Nick Price set the course record with 9-under-par 63 on Saturday, and Greg Norman held the 54-hole lead.

But it was Seve Ballesteros, who made a pair of eagles in the final round, who seemed destined to slip on the green jacket for the third time in his career.

Nicklaus, 46 and deemed washed up by some in the media, had other plans. He rolled in birdie putts at Nos. 9, 10 and 11 to get in the mix. A bogey at the par-3 12th was only a temporary blip. He birdied the 13th and eagled the 15th, and the patrons at Augusta National were in a frenzy.

Nicklaus nearly holed his tee shot at the 16th to set up another birdie, and Lundquist remembered fellow announcer Jim Nantz's call.

"That was Jim's first Augusta, he was working 16," Lundquist said. "The story is when Jack hit his tee shot, (his caddie) Jack II said, 'Be good,' and Jack said without looking up, 'It is.' The ball almost went in the hole. Jim said 'the bear has come out of hibernation.'

Now it was Lundquist's turn for a memorable call.

"When he stood on 17 tee, Seve had dumped it in the water at 15. All of a sudden, Jack was tied for the lead," Lundquist recalled. "And (Nicklaus) put a bad move on tee shot, ended up over near the 7th green. He hit a pitching wedge, and left it 12 feet above the hole."

Most announcers can sense when a big moment is about to occur, and Lundquist had that same feeling as Nicklaus approached the green.

"I remember thinking to myself, as he walked up, keep it simple and get your butt out of the way," Lundquist said. "I managed to do that."

Nicklaus carefully studied the putt. Then he stroked the putt with his oversized Response ZT putter.

As the putt approached the hole, Lundquist said "Maybe." And a few seconds, as the ball fell into the cup and Nicklaus raised his putter in the air, he completed the thought with "Yes sir!"

"I boldly predicted, when it was that far from the hole (holding his hands a few inches apart), aggressive commentary," Lundquist said with a laugh. "I reacted with what I said. A little 'yes sir' with slightly more emphasis than that."

Nicklaus went on to win his sixth Masters and his 18th career major at the age of 46. Those are marks that have yet to be broken.

'In your life'

Nearly two decades later, Lundquist had made the switch to the par-3 16th at the Masters for the CBS broadcast. The par-3 hole has delivered plenty of drama through the years, and its Sunday pin location has yielded plenty of birdies and a few holes-in-one.

The defining shot for the hole known as Redbud came in 2005. Woods was locked in a battle with Chris DiMarco, and he hit his tee shot long and over the green.

That was no good, but it was Woods. Like Nicklaus before him, he had a knack for making magic happen.

Lundquist had gone out to the hole earlier in the week as part of his preparation and he and his cameraman noticed all of the cameras for the holes on the second nine had new lenses.

There also was a horizontal stabilizer.

"When you get excited and jump up, the camera won't shake," Lundquist said his cameraman told him.

Woods hit his pitch shot back into the slope, and the ball started to roll toward the cup.

"We zoomed in on Tiger, 25 feet, here it comes, he never lost focus, now it tumbles down toward the hole, and now it gets close," Lundquist told Golf Channel during an interview earlier this week.

The TV truck called for a switch to a different camera, but Lundquist said his technical director "followed his instincts" and did not change to a different angle.

"In your life ... have you seen anything like that?" Lundquist said with gusto as the golf ball paused, showed Woods' Nike logo, then fell into the cup for an unlikely birdie.

"We stayed on the shot, and because Norm Patterson followed his instincts, it created what everyone remembers," Lundquist said. "If he had taken (the other camera), you would have heard ball drop. You wouldn't have seen it. Changes everything."

Woods went on to win a sudden-death playoff over DiMarco for his fourth Masters victory.

"I was reacting," Lundquist said. "I bet nobody else at home had seen anything like that."

Favorite call

Lundquist has seen plenty of memorable moments in a career that involved calling football, basketball and other sports in addition to golf.

In 1992, he was on duty when Christian Laettner sank a buzzer-beater to send Duke to the Final Four in March Madness.

He was the longtime voice of the SEC on CBS, and he was involved in two miraculous Auburn victories in football: the Prayer at Jordan Hare and the Kick Six game.

He called the Fog Bowl, the NFL playoff game between Philadelphia and Chicago. And on and on.

Lundquist gets asked frequently which golf call he likes better: Nicklaus or Woods.

"They're 1A and 1B," he said. "I can't really ... I've been asked that question before. I lean toward Jack Nicklaus in '86. Probably moreso the fact that Jack is six months older than me and I tend to remind him every chance I get."

Now Lundquist is taking a well-deserved victory lap.

"Verne might be retiring, but he has permanent residence here at Augusta National," said Nantz, his longtime CBS colleague. "His voice will echo through the trees here forever. His calls, they will be played back, 50, 100, 200 years from now. He'll always have a home here. Long live Verne Lundquist."

He even got a shout-out from Fred Ridley, chairman of Augusta National and the Masters.

"I still get chills when hearing the famous calls by an incredible Verne Lundquist of two of the most iconic Sunday moments in Masters history," Ridley said. "Who could forget the drama as Tiger's ball stopped momentarily and then fell into the hole? You're right, Verne, we have not seen anything like that."

As CBS takes over broadcast duties this weekend, Lundquist will make the familiar trek to the 16th hole. Two back surgeries will prevent him from climbing up the main tower, but he will be in the flanker tower next to it.

"There's a spot on my left thigh that I'll be pinching to make sure I don't shed a tear on the air," he said. "It's been a great run. I'm 83 years old. I've been blessed to have a sensational professional life and a wonderful professional life. I wasn't the first to say this, but thanks for the memories."