He teed off in the final round six shots clear of playing partner and nearest challenger, Nick Faldo, seven shots clear of Phil Mickelson and a country mile clear of the rest of the field. He had played impeccable golf for three rounds and appeared to have seen off the Faldo challenge in the third round by increasing his tournament lead from four shots to six. It was of course the 1996 US Masters and ‘he’ was the ‘Great White Shark’, Greg Norman.
Up until 1996, Norman had long been regarded as the best player in the world, Faldo did assume the number one ranking for a couple of years at the time when he was winning five ‘major’s in the late 80s early 90’s, but overall it was Norman who had the most ability. Indeed until the 1996 Masters he had finished second or tied second in seven ‘Major’s’ and had fifteen other top ten finishes in ‘Major’s’ but amazingly had only managed to win two, which had come in the Open Championship in 1986 and 1993. Surely the 1996 US Masters was to be his third!
Norman’s first tee shot of the day perhaps told the crowd more than it needed to, but he hooked it into the trees and went on to make a bogey. He followed that up with a long putt to save par on the third, but bogeyed the fourth and then hit his third bogey on eight. Faldo meanwhile was going about his business in his usual pragmatic manner, playing each hole on its merits, relying on course management to provide the ‘birdie’ opportunities and they came on the 6th and the 8th with birdies at each. Faldo was all of a sudden in contention and only 3 shots behind and the formidable Augusta 4 hole turn was coming up. Read the rest of this entry →