Down Memory Lane: Masters record shows Faldo's genius is without question
Few would dispute that Nick Faldo is Britain’s greatest ever golfer and the Masters at Augusta prompts memories of his great feats.
And, of course, it couldn’t be the Masters weekend without thinking of the supreme star, Jack Nicklaus, the ultimate professional who won his 18th Major with a historic triumph in the 50th Masters tournament 1986.
He shot 65 (including a back nine 30) for a final tally of 279 (-9) with Tom Kite and Greg Norman joint second.
It was his 6th green jacket and a display of golf which is still talked about to this day. Nicklaus set the benchmark.
Faldo, born in Welwyn Garden City on July 18, 1957, has emerged from an unprivileged background – he started his working career as a carpet fitter – to attain wealth and notoriety.
His relationship with the Media was often fractured, but, like so many other ex-sportsmen when they retire, he has found a niche as the leading the golf analyst for the US TV network CBS, replacing Lanny Wadkins.
His dry British wit and knowledge of all commentaries have made him quite a hit among viewers.
By 1987, with his swing remodelled under the guidance of David Leadbetter, Faldo, who could compete under intense pressure, collected his first major title – The Open.
That was the pathway to success justifying the label of best golfer in the world in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
He shot a 65, lowest round of the tournament, in 1989 and qualified for a play-off with Scott Hoch, which he won after holing a lengthy putt on the second play-off hole.
And in the 1999 Masters he again came from behind from a play-off with Raymond Floyd, again winning at the second play-off hole when Floyd pulled his approach shot into a pond left of the green.
“This run doesn’t have to end,” he told the media.
“If someone is going to beat me, then I’ll try damn hard to ensure they work for their victory. Let them come.”
That year he collected worldwide seasonal earnings of £1,558,978 to break the existing record.
Then in 1996 he wore the green jacket for the third time when winning his sixth and final Major. Drama, tension and disbelief gripped the astonishing course as Faldo when into the last round trailing Norman by six shots.
The Australian had a Sunday disaster returning a 78. He had thrown away a golden opportunity and given Faldo the crown.
Faldo hugged Norman at the finish whispering into his ear: “Don’t let the bastards let you down.”
It was, of course, a reference to the Media who were likely to criticise Norman for his failure.
They were then fierce rivals, now close friends, whose pleasure in life is “goin’ fishing”.
Faldo picked a plethora of golf prizes and other honours, an MBE, followed by a knighthood, embarked on designing courses and capitalised on his success and deep knowledge of the game.
He was captain of the 2008 European Ryder Cup team at Valhalla, Louisville, Kentucky, which lost 16 and a half–11 and a half to the USA, largest margin of victory since 1981.
He caused raised eyebrows and much debate when selecting Ian Poulter as his wild card instead of Darren Clarke.
Poulter’s form backed his judgement but it was only one of a series of controversial decisions.
Life was not made easier for him by the indifferent performances of Padraig Harrington, Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood.
The Ryder Cup certainly wasn’t his finest managerial hour.
Sir Nicholas Alexander Faldo may not be everyone’s cup of tea but none can ever question his genius and success.
Golf’s record books don’t liesix Majors – three Open Championships and three Masters.