With the DP World Tour’s 50th anniversary in full swing, we look back at Sir Nick Faldo’s memorable final-round comeback to win his third Masters Tournament title and sixth Major Championship in 1996.
Setting the scene for the final round
Faldo, already a five-time Major winner, trailed 54-hole leader Greg Norman by six shots as he entered the final day.
Many predicted Norman, then atop the Official World Golf Ranking, would complete a wire-to-wire victory at Augusta National Golf Club and add to his two Open Championship victories.
However, a brilliant closing 67 – the best of the day – saw Faldo win his third Green Jacket and, as it transpired, his 30th and final win on the DP World Tour.
Victory also saw Faldo, one of the ‘Famous Five’ to transform the fortunes of European golf alongside Seve Ballesteros, Bernhard Langer, Sandy Lyle and Ian Woosnam, become the Tour’s most decorated player at Major Championships – a feat that he still holds to this day.
How the final round unfolded
Playing with Norman in the final group, Faldo reduced the overnight deficit from six shots to four as he made one birdie in the opening four holes while Norman mixed two bogeys with a birdie.
After his first and only bogey of the day at the par four fifth, Faldo immediately responded with a birdie before he rolled in a 20-footer on the eighth to move within three shots of Norman.
A bogey from Norman, who had begun the week by equalling the course record with a nine under par 63, at the par four ninth after a poor approach from the fairway saw the lead reduced to two shots at the turn.
Norman, previously runner-up at Augusta in 1986 and 1987, continued to falter as he bogeyed the 10th and 11th while Faldo, in contrast, continued to play error-free golf to maintain the pressure.
With the duo level on nine under par, the overnight leader then found Rae’s Creek with his tee shot at the famous par three 12th, resulting in a double bogey five.
Faldo, who had parred four consecutive holes, now held a two-shot lead with the Amen Corner stretch of holes nearly at an end.
Faldo set up a birdie at the par five 13th with a brilliant second shot into the heart of the green that followed deliberation over his club selection as he eventually switched from a five wood to a two iron, but his birdie was matched by Norman.
Still two shots clear after the pair both birdied the par five 15th, Faldo made a safe par at the par three 16th, but Norman would record another double bogey as he found the water with his tee shot.
The destiny of the title was now an inevitability, with Faldo four shots clear.
The Englishman, then aged 38, completed his victory which appeared improbable at the outset of the round with a birdie at the 18th.
Faldo reacts to comeback victory
Faldo, who also made up five shots in seven holes to win his first Green Jacket in 1989 before he chased down Raymond Floyd in 1990, remains one of only three men to have successfully defended the Masters.
In his post-round interview in the Butler Cabin, Faldo said: “In a way it is a credit to the Masters for what you put us through I’m afraid.
“It is the most nerve-wracking golf course in the world, isn’t it… simple as that. We have to play the most precise golf under the most extreme pressures.”