Nick Faldo – Colgate PGA Championship 1978
A talented sportsman, Nick Faldo took up golf late, at the age of 14. But he wasted no time in making his mark on the game, persuading his family to allow him to leave school aged 16 to focus upon the game. Practising daily, Faldo won 10 amateur titles before turning professional aged 19.
In his first year on the European Tour, he won the rookie of the year award on his way to becoming the then-youngest Ryder Cup player ever. Victory also came that year in a playoff at the Skol Lager Individual.
The Skol Lager Individual was a one-off event played over the King’s Course at Gleneagles, but it was at Royal Birkdale the following May that Faldo would secure the first of his 27 European and PGA Tour victories, plus six major victories.
Conditions at the Lancashire course were perfect on the final day of the Colgate PGA Championship, and Faldo held a four-stroke advantage over Howard Clark and Peter Townsend. As the duo faded away during the round, Faldo’s confidence grew.
An eagle on the 15th brought Faldo, a native of Welwyn Garden City, within touching distance of victory at the European Tour’s flagship event. Two more birdies, at the 17th and 18th, led to a resounding 10-shot victory over second-placed Ken Brown.
Faldo had become the youngest winner of a professional tournament since Bernard Gallacher, nine years earlier. The career of one of England’s greatest ever golfers was well and truly under way.