REMEMBER THIS? SPORT'S MAGIC MOMENTS OF 1994 : Els and Olazabal share t he glory From the try that gave Great Britain hope to the goal that even Pele would have been proud of

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The Independent Online
GOLF : Ernie Els, yesterday named as the Johnnie Walker European Tour Golfer of the Year, set the ball rolling by establishing a course record of 61 in the Dubai Desert Classic. Over the highly regarded Emirates course it is a score that may with stand the sands of time.

It was the first of many extraordinary moments for the 25-year-old South African who went on to win the US Open, the World Match Play, the Gene Sarazen World Open and the Johnnie Walker World Championship. There were many other memorable moments.

If anything Bernhard Langer's 62 during the Volvo Masters was even more remarkable. Valderrama is one of the most testing courses on the European Tour and even Langer has to approach the brutal par-threes with a three-wood or a two-iron. When the Ryder Cup is played there in 1997 the short holes will be a focal point, as will the 17th, a spectacular par five.

If Langer's 62 is unlikely to be matched, so too is the albatross of Miguel Angel Jimenez. He hit a three-iron 210 yards over the daunting lake in front of the green at the 17th and the crowd lining the bank at the back watched in disbelief as the ball disappeared into the hole. It was the first albatross-two Valderrama had ever seen and the odds on it happening again are astronomical.

At the same venue we had the war of nerves between Seve Ballesteros and the tournament director, John Paramor. When Ballesteros approached the 18th on the final day he needed a three to deny Langer. However, he pushed his three-wood and the ball finishedat the base of a cork tree, near a hole. Ballesteros wanted relief on the grounds that the hole had been made by a burrowing animal. Paramor ruled that there was no evidence of fresh scrapings. When he put his hand in the hole Ballesteros warned Paramor: "Watch out, it might bite." Paramor survived, Ballesteros failed to get a free drop and the Spaniard had to settle for second place.

Then there was the warm memory of Carl Mason, a journeyman who in 20 years on Tour had never arrived. That was until he travelled to Jerez for the Turespana Masters. The course at Montecastillo was designed by Jack Nicklaus and he, Ballesteros and Jose-Maria Olazabal were among the field. Not even the crashing sound of Michael Schumacher testing his Benetton at the nearby race-track could disturb Mason's concentration. On six occasions he had finished second. "I'd always managed to mess it up," he said.This time his nerve held, he played some wonderful iron shots and he withheld the challenge of Olazabal, who finished in second place. Suitably fortified in the heart of Spain's sherry country, Mason went on to greater things and recorded another victory, in the Bell's Scottish Open at Gleneagles.

In any other season, Olazabal's triumph in the Masters at Augusta would have made him Europe's golfer of the year but nevertheless he is entitled to be honoured for playing the shot of the year. Olazabal was locked into a tense struggle with Tom Lehman in the final round when he delivered the stroke that, according to the American later, was "like a dagger to the heart". Olazabal's second shot to the par-five 15th flirted agonisingly with the water in front of the green before his ball bit on the bank and came to rest on the fringe of the green. With Lehman almost assured of a birdie, Olazabal stroked the ball into the middle of the hole from 30 feet or so for an eagle three and at that point the Spaniard knew he was destined to receive the Green Jacket from the previous year's winner, Langer.

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