January 25, 2012 by
Jose Maria Olazabal - The last European to win the "Green Jacket" in 1999.
Despite the fact that the US Masters is still a couple of months away, the start of the new season in Golf means that players will be looking to fine tune their games ahead of the first “major” of the year, the US Masters, and with European players occupying the top four places in the World rankings currently, the question is whether a European can finally win the “Green Jacket”, some 13 years after the last!
It seems an eternity since Jose Maria Olazabal last won what is arguably the sport’s most prestigious tournament. His win in 1999 added to his first win at Augusta in 1994 and came after Sir Nick Faldo’s third triumph in the event in 1996. Other European winners of the Masters in a golden era for players from across the Atlantic included the late, Seve Ballesteros, who won it twice in 1980 & 1983. German, Bernard Langer, also won two “Green Jacket’s” in 1985 and then eight years later in 1993. Sandy Lyle became the first ever British winner in 1987 and while Faldo followed him with back to back wins in 1989 & 1990, it was Welshman, Ian Woosnam who took the title in 1991. However, despite recent European winners of the other three “Majors”, the Masters has seemingly become elusive for Europe’s top players.
Of course, Rory McIlroy had the 2011 Masters when he took a four shot lead into the final round but the young Ulsterman imploded early on the Sunday and his chance was very quickly gone. As we know, he made some amends a few weeks later when winning the US Open but losing the “Green Jacket” will still sit heavy on his shoulders and McIlroy will be out to avenge that final round performance in April and he is arguably Europe’s best chance of ending the 13 year wait. Read the rest of this entry →
January 21, 2011 by
1996 US Masters winner, Nick Faldo, doesn't celebrate, opting to comfort Greg Norman, who threw away a final round lead
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 →