How Nick Faldo toppled Greg Norman at Augusta

History

Nick Faldo talks us through his famous Masters victory in 1997 as he overcame a six shot deficit to defeat to Greg Norman.

The plan

I played with Greg on the Saturday and I was disappointed when I missed an eagle putt on 13 and bogeyed 16 with a 9-iron in my hand. My swing was a bit off so I headed to the range.

I don’t know what my confidence level was on the Sunday. I remember thinking, if I shoot three under and he shoots three over that would be the six shots. So my plan was to get within three after nine holes.

The Shot

Nick Faldo

All week I carried a 5-wood; an old persimmon 5-wood which I hit 215 yards every time. On all the par 5s, at 2, 13 and 15 during the practice rounds, Fanny (Sunesson) dropped a ball at 215 yards and I hit my 5-wood. Amazingly I didn’t use it at all during the week until the 13th on Sunday when I had 215 yards to the middle.

So I grabbed my 5-wood but it would not sit flat on that sloping fairway. I wasn’t comfortable with it so we discussed the yardages to the front, middle and back. I then decided to hit a 2-iron and I nailed it. I knew that I had ripped it straightaway, I hit it sweet. It was very solid.

It was one of the shots of my lifetime, let alone that day

The Turnaround

Nick Faldo

After 12 I was two clear and then it was mine to lose and I was doing all my breathing exercises. You don’t ignore what Greg was doing. I knew exactly what was going on but I still had to go play my game.

But I watched him very closely. I saw everything. I was in a cocoon all day. I was not as confident as I was in the early 90s so that was a great mental effort to hold it together and win.

It was my best Masters Sunday. The 67 was the lowest round for the weekend, that’s how tough it was. That’s how firm the greens were. I definitely would deem that as one of the greatest rounds I ever played.

It wouldn’t have been possible without the previous two wins. I felt comfortable playing there. But to be honest, on that Sunday, the two past experiences did not go through my mind. I was totally in the now time.

The 18th Green

Nick Faldo

The hug wasn’t planned. I genuinely felt for him. If I had a six-shot lead and had blown it, I would be scarred for life. Needless to say we haven’t spoken about it since.

On the green it was an amazing feeling to turn and look at the leaderboard and double-check the numbers and realise that I had won again. Now it feels like I was part of one of the most memorable and talked-about finishes. I love going back, it’s really a most special gathering under the tree because it’s a gathering of golf. Your whole history and golf’s whole history and golf’s future is there.

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