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TRUE BRIT
Rick Reilly
April 16, 1990
With a gritty run in the homestretch that began with this bunker shot at the 12th, England's Nick Faldo overtook Raymond Floyd, forced a playoff and won his second consecutive Masters
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April 16, 1990

True Brit

With a gritty run in the homestretch that began with this bunker shot at the 12th, England's Nick Faldo overtook Raymond Floyd, forced a playoff and won his second consecutive Masters

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The guy who blew the masters on Sunday sure wasn't Raymond Floyd. The real Floyd gives up leads about as often as pit bulls give up New York strips. The real Floyd plays the par 5s at Augusta National as if Titleists could float. Lay up? Shut up. This new Floyd, the impostor, surrendered a four-shot lead with six holes remaining on Sunday. He played the par 5s like Aunt Bee. The real Floyd is about as much fun on a golf course as an OSHA inspector with a toothache. This new guy was smiling, laughing, cutting up for the better part of four days.

Going into Sunday's final round, Floyd was nine under par on the par 5s. That's how the real Floyd had always done it. Remember when he lapped the field at Augusta in 1976? He was 14 under on the par 5s, which is still the tournament record. To the real Floyd, laying up on the par 5s on Sunday is like wearing a kilt. So why—why, oh why—did this new guy suddenly start laying up on the back nine with a three-shot lead?

Meanwhile, an ambitious young Brit with a jacket fetish was bombing away at the par 5s from anywhere inside county lines. On 13, he knocked it on in two and two-putted for birdie. On 15, he went for the green again and made birdie. All of a sudden, a lead that was four shots with six holes to play was two. Next thing you knew, Nick Faldo was putting on the same green jacket he had won last year; Floyd was "as devastated as I've ever been in my life"; American golf was taking another cream pie in the face; and Deane Beman's favorite group, Foreigner, had won its third straight Masters and its sixth in the past 11 years.

Almost nobody figured the tournament would end this way. Everybody had creamed-corn jokes ready. After all, going into Sunday, you had Floyd, age 47, at 10 under, Nicklaus, 50, at five under and Gary Player, 54, at one under. Even Lee Trevino, 50, was hanging around at three over. There has been talk of starting a Senior Masters, but who needs that when you have a seniors' Masters? As many Senior tour players made the cut (four) as Top 10 PGA players. Fellas, winner gets $225,000 and a new Bing Crosby three-record set.

Meanwhile, the under-45 set was under heavy sedation. Greg Norman came to Augusta announcing that he'd never felt better. He opened with a nifty 78, followed by a 72, followed by an early flight home. In the last four Masters, the Shark had finished a total of seven shots behind the winners. Not this time. If Norman made one of his famous Sunday charges last week, it was at the West Palm Beach J.C. Penney.

The Splendid Splinter, Paul Azinger, had a 10 on 13 last Thursday and wasn't heard from again. Sandy Lyle missed the cut, thank god. Lyle wiped out three spectators in two days: one in the head, one in the eye and one in the leg. The British tabloids are about to start calling him THE TARTAN TERROR. If he returns next year, the forecaddies are talking strike. Seve Ballesteros, who is supposed to win this thing by default, finished seventh. Oh, and Mark Calcavecchia wound up 20th. However, he and his caddie-wife, Sheryl, came up with a new way to clean clubs. You wash. I'll dry.

The biggest story of the week, literally, was a 22-year-old country boy from Scuffletown Road in Fountain Inn, S.C.—305-pound U.S. Amateur champion Chris Patton, a Clemson senior who was living out his dreams. After he played a practice round with Norman and Arnold Palmer on Wednesday of last week, Patton was refreshingly honest. "I was just hoping I didn't go out to the first tee and take a big ol' slab of sod," he said with a kind of pea-mouth fried-chicken charm.

Could he be related to Billy Joe Patton, one of the few amateurs to come close to winning the Masters (in 1954)? Or to General George Patton? "Well, they've never showed up at the family reunions," said Chris. Why did he think he was getting so much attention in Augusta? "I guess it's just because I'm so good-looking," he said.

Patton never led the tournament, but he was low condo, er, amateur, and each day he wedged himself in and out of Amen Corner without ordering a pizza. He finished a respectable 39th, tied with Chip Beck and Mark Lye, thanks largely to his delicate putting stroke. Of course, it's easy to putt when everything breaks toward you.

This was a high-intake week anyway. On Thursday. Augusta became Mike Donald's kind of place. The Tour leader in tournaments played last year (35), Donald, 34, made everything and anything on his way to a 64, tying Lloyd Mangrum's 1940 record for splashiest opening round at the tournament. Donald was so overcome, he was moved to tears. "I played a lot of rounds when I was a kid, pretending it was Augusta," he recalled. "But I never played this good then."

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