Category archive: Nick Faldo

Appreciation comes with time, but there might not ever be enough of that when it comes to Nick Faldo's 1996 Masters victory. The tournament will always be remembered for Greg Norman's collapse. He bled all over Augusta National.

Meanwhile, Faldo shot a 67, one of the best final rounds in major championship history, especially considering the six-shot deficit he faced that day.

So is it more about Norman's collapse or Faldo's charge?

It is difficult not to make Norman's final-round 78 the story, when anything around par would have gotten the job done, no matter what Faldo did.

But you have to give credit to the Englishman for applying the pressure.

One of the most popular players in the game seemingly had his hands all over that elusive green jacket. With an opening 63, he tied the course record. He took a six-shot lead into the final round. It disappeared in 11 holes. Faldo went on to win by five.

Masters Top 25 Moment -- No. 6

Everyone, of course, remembers Norman's collapse. But you have to admire Faldo's 67.

"It was an unusual day. We all know what happened," Faldo said. "It was a hell of an atmosphere going on. It was quite an arena to play in. Augusta is amazing to play in anyway. But when something like that is happening … it really was quite electric, an unusual atmosphere."

The Shark had endured so many close calls at the Masters, including his wayward approach to the 18th a decade earlier, when Jack Nicklaus won, and his playoff defeat in 1987, when Larry Mize chipped in on him. This was to be his time.

It began to unravel, unbeknownst to Norman or anyone else, when Faldo birdied No. 18 on Saturday. That put him in the final pairing with Norman. Playing head to head with one of the game's all-time steely competitors proved difficult for Norman; had Faldo not birdied at the end of the third round, Norman would have played the final 18 with 25-year-old Phil Mickelson.

Faldo made one bogey on the front nine but had three birdies to keep the heat on Norman, whose six-shot advantage was all gone by the time they reached the 12th tee. There, Norman's tee shot went in the water, and he fell behind by two.

Birdies by Faldo at the 13th and 15th holes kept Norman at bay. And when Norman hit his approach in the water at the par-3 16th, it was over, making Faldo's birdie at the 18th anticlimactic.

In an uncommon show of emotion, Faldo hugged Norman and uttered a few words in his ear. He kept what he said a secret for eight years, finally letting out that, in so many words, he told Norman not to let the media or anyone get to him.

"I felt for the guy because I would hate for that happen to me," Faldo said. "People make assumptions, six-shot lead. There are no assumptions at Augusta. My goal was to get within three after nine. And a three-shot lead on the back nine at Augusta is nothing. I genuinely felt for him. I wouldn't want that to happen to me. I've been fortunate. I haven't been scarred by this game."

No, but will he be appreciated for that victory? Will the masses remember Norman's collapse or Faldo's fine play?

"At the end of the day, you look at the scorebook," he said. "In years to come, you see 'Faldo, 12 under.' The next best is 7 under. I always say, you know where the tape is. It's at the end of 72 holes."

For an interactive timeline of classic moments in Masters history, check out Masters.com.

Bob Harig covers golf for ESPN.com. He can be reached at BobHarig@gmail.com.

All these years later, it is interesting to note that Nick Faldo bogeyed the 11th hole at Augusta National during all four rounds of the 1989 Masters.

His 5 there during a rainy final round dropped him five strokes back of the lead, but he rallied for a 65 that put him in a memorable playoff with Scott Hoch -- one that he seemed hopelessly out of when his approach to the first playoff hole, No. 10, found a bunker.

Hoch was on the green with a birdie putt that ran 2 feet by the hole, and Faldo was helpless as he blasted out and made a bogey 5. Hoch had a simple par putt for the win -- and he missed.

It was a major championship gaffe, as the ball didn't even hit the hole.

More than two decades later, Hoch has come to terms with his brush with immortality. Now 55, he won 11 times on the PGA Tour, played on two U.S. Ryder Cup teams and earned nearly $20 million.

But the botched putt remains his legacy. For a time, the phrase, "Hoch as in choke" was derisively used to describe him, although he went on to win eight of his titles after that Masters and climbed to as high as 11th in the world in 1997.

"It was a great experience, but you would have liked to have finished it off better than that," Hoch said. "I don't think about it anymore, except when someone brings it up. But for a while there, you can't help it. You strive to win major tournaments... I certainly would have loved to win that but I didn't."

Masters Top 25 Moment -- No. 17

Faldo won the first of his green jackets on the next hole by rolling in a 30-foot birdie putt. It was the second of his six major championships.

The Englishman had overcome a 77 in the third round, but understandably what is most remembered is Hoch's miss.

"What happened was I lined it up left. That's what I figure," Hoch said. "I've seen [the replays.] I've seen it from behind, most of the pictures. It felt fine, the stroke felt fine. I wanted to put it just inside the hole. I just lined up wrong. I felt comfortable.

"People were saying about me not hurrying up and putting it the first time, but the same thing happened on 17 tee. I wasn't going to have it happen again. I was standing over the putt, thinking 'Man, I'm going to win the Masters.' And that was the wrong thing to think about. And I kind of forgot what I had read in the putt. That's when I thought I have to get my head straight, backed off and looked at it again and went and putted.

"I was perfectly ready, it was the right thing, it was the right thing to do at the time. I just didn't make it. I would have been really ticked off at myself if I had putted the first time with the wrong thoughts in my head and to have missed it. It would have driven me crazy. At the time I did the right thing and got my mind where I needed to make the putt and I just didn't."

For an interactive timeline of classic moments in Masters history, check out Masters.com.

Bob Harig covers golf for ESPN.com. He can be reached at BobHarig@gmail.com.

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