The Cut : The Cut - Autumn 2017
42 THE CUT 42THE MASTERS FALDO’S IN 1996, NICK FALDO PULLED OFF ONE OF THE GREATEST FINAL-ROUND COMEBACKS IN MASTERS HISTORY WHEN HE OVERHAULED ARCH RIVAL GREG NORMAN’S SEEMINGLY IMPENETRABLE SIX-SHOT LEAD. IN HIS OWN WORDS, FALDO RELIVES THE DRAMA OF THE CLOSING 18 HOLES. FINEST HOUR LEFT: Greg Norman falls to his knees after his chip for eagle on the 15th hole narrowly missed the cup. O f all the competitive rounds I’ve played during my career, the one people want to talk to me about the most is the 67 I shot on the final day of the 1996 Masters with Greg Norman. I’ve lost count of the number of times people have come up to me and commented on how calm and confident I looked that day. If only they knew the real truth! In all honesty, I was fighting inner battles with my swing and my mind the whole week. Throughout the entire final round, I was constantly having to step in and out of focus, prepare and re-prepare to hit each shot as I fought, not just to rein in Greg’s six-shot lead, but to keep the mechanics of my swing under control and repeating consistently. Under the circumstances, it probably ranks as the the greatest round, mentally, I have ever played. Here is how the day unfolded. I remember heading to the 10th tee, as I always did on the first practice day. I skied my drives on both 10 and 11. It was an inauspicious start, not helped by Jerry Pate walking past and saying, “That’s too quick, too fast.” My swing thought for the rest of the week was to slow my swing down for a ‘softer’ transition. In those days, I liked having a motto or a catchphrase to help keep me focused. Thanks to my daughter Georgina, I swung the club with the thought ‘Powerpuff Girls’ in my head. They were all the rage back then and Georgina was a big fan. I was keeping it all soft and trying not to ‘burst the bubble’ as I moved through impact. Because I’d been losing my tempo and blocking shots to the right, all of my swing thoughts that week were designed to keep my swing smooth and on plane. So you can imagine what I thought when I discovered I was paired with John Daly in the first round. But to my surprise, I played all right and shot a very creditable 69, which did me the world of good. However, Norman had opened with a nine-under par round of 63, so I was already six shots back. I hit some great shots in the second round. My drive on 13 springs to mind. I turned it round the corner there and only had a 6-iron or 7-iron left into the green. My five-under-par round of 67 moved me up to second on the leaderboard, four behind Greg, who I was then paired with on the Saturday afternoon. The conditions were tough for scoring over the weekend and my 73 to Greg’s 71 meant I now trailed him by six again, although I’d done just enough on the day to ensure that I was in the final group again on Sunday. I think I delayed talking to the press after the round because I wasn’t happy with my game. I’d blocked a horrible 6-iron into the right bunker at 16 and I headed straight for the range to try and sort things out. I was looking to get the butt of the club heading towards my right foot as I started from the top.
The Cut - Summer 2017
The Cut - Winter 2017