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"I just thought, Well, he's opened the door for me. Then it felt like destiny."
Unforgettable? let us count the ways that this year's Masters was unforgettable.
There was, first and foremost, the weather, which seemed to have howled straight down from Edmonton, shriveling the azaleas and pelting the dogwoods with an icy rain that looked as if it had been shot from a fire hose. From the first windblown drive on April 6 to the final birdie putt in the drizzly gloaming Sunday, the unseasonable weather was instrumental in shaping the dramatic and fitting conclusion of the 53rd Masters.
There was 49-year-old Lee Trevino, who put aside his dislike of Augusta National long enough to remind the young guys—in case they had forgotten Jack Nicklaus's win here in 1986—that experience means more on this golf course than 40 extra yards off the tee.
There was the 24-inch putt missed by Scott Hoch (rhymes with choke) on the first hole of sudden death, a near-gimme that would have won him the Masters. It was a lousy time for his first three-putt of the tournament.
There was, finally and mercifully, 31-year-old Nick Faldo, whose final-round 65 moved him past seven players to five under par, where he and Hoch stood at the end of regulation play. Taking advantage of the second life Hoch had granted him by flubbing that 24-incher, Faldo rammed in a 25-foot putt—his ninth birdie of the afternoon—on the second playoff hole, the par-4 11th, to send the cold, wet crowd home to hot baths and toddies.
It was Faldo's first Masters win and his second major championship, his first being the 1987 British Open at Muirfield. His triumph also marked the second consecutive year that a golfer from Great Britain has won the green jacket. When Scotland's Sandy Lyle, who missed the cut on Friday but stayed in town to help dress the winner, slipped the coat on Faldo, he inquired about the menu at next year's champions' dinner, the pretournament meal for past winners that is traditionally hosted by the defender. "What's it going to be?" asked the kilted Lyle, whose own menu had included the Scottish specialty haggis (stuffed sheep's stomach). "Roast beef and Yorkshire pudd'?"
Faldo's Masters victory clearly establishes him as a member of the game's elite, a fraternity that is increasingly dominated by foreign golfers. Once dubbed Nick Fold-o by the British press, Fald-o has forged the best record in the majors over the past two years. In addition to his Masters and British Open wins, he lost the 1988 U.S. Open to Curtis Strange in an 18-hole playoff, finished third in the '88 British Open and tied for fourth in last year's PGA Championship. His 65 on Sunday was the low round of the day and a far cry from the string of 18 pars that enabled Faldo to win the British Open two years ago by a stroke. Asked to compare his Masters title with his championship at Muirfield, he said, "This one has been far more of a battle. Majors are all equal...but to come and to win in America, to be honest, is harder."
To win at Augusta, Faldo had to overcome everything from slick greens, high winds and slow play to torrential rains and casual water to darkness and back-to-back rounds paired with that most un-British subject, the Merry Mex.