SI Vault
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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On Friday his memory got better. Donald bogeyed four of the first five holes. And when his tee shot on 18 hit a tree and an outhouse roof before being swept away by a draining culvert, Donald's dreams had literally gone down the drain. His first-day 64 followed by Friday's 82 was the worst one-two act in Masters history.

This is where Floyd came in, bent on taking home every piece of crystal in the clubhouse vault. He had already won the par-3 tournament on Wednesday, which, of course, is the worst thing you can do. Nobody has ever won the par-3 tournament and the regular tournament the same year. He took a two-shot lead over Masters rookie John (no relation) Huston on Friday with a 68, and then put up another 68 on Saturday. His second round included chipping in from the men's grill or somewhere on number 14 and sinking a 35-footer on the cement-greened 16th. "I'm putting no pressure on myself now," Floyd kept saying. "I decided I've got nothing more to prove to me. I used to be so tough on myself. Now, I'm just having fun."

Who was this guy? He was pumping his fists, laughing with fans, smiling as he walked. What does he think golf is? A game? By the end of play on Saturday, he had a two-shot lead on Huston, three on Faldo and five on Dorian Gray.

Just a note: Six back was Bernhard Langer, who was perhaps lucky to be anywhere at all. On the Sunday before the tournament began, he was playing a practice round at Augusta by himself—hitting four and five balls. When a foursome of club members caught up with him on the back nine he was reluctant at first to let them play through. The foursome included a rather displeased Masters chairman Hord Hardin.

If anyone were going to catch Floyd, the last guy you would have picked was Huston, but Huston didn't seem to care. He's a 28-year-old kid who never takes a practice swing or a practice putt. He's also the guy who admitted he spent two semesters on the golf team at Auburn but only about "five minutes at the school."

The Highest Possible Goosebumps rating belonged to the half-century-old J.W. Nicklaus, whom you might not recognize these days. He's so thin now (new diet) that he appears almost lanky, and he's busting the ball from here to Atlanta. As with most improvements, for this last one we give thanks to the Japanese. Not long ago, on an outing in Japan, Nicklaus was getting outstrafed on his drives by 75 yards by Masashi (Jumbo) Ozaki and his Bridgestone driver, the professional weapon of the J's—Jumbo, Jet and Joe Ozaki, golfing brothers. Nicklaus decided to make a weapons purchase. He acquired some clubs from Jumbo and hasn't given them back. Floyd, who has eight, used them, too, and he hit patches of Augusta fairway that he hadn't visited in 25 years.

Nicklaus has even asked his own golf equipment company, MacGregor, to analyze the composition of the shaft to find out what in tarnation makes the thing get such distance. In return, Nicklaus agreed to give Ozaki Florida.

However, there was more to this than golf clubs. Earlier this year Nicklaus said his goal was to be the first player to win on the senior and regular tours in the same year. For a human, this is a lifetime challenge. For Nicklaus, it was something to do between taping instructional videos. He went out and won the Tradition, a Senior tour event in Scotts-dale, Ariz., came to Augusta with a gleam in his eye and lurked only five shots out with 18 holes to go. Can you imagine? A green jacket for every day of the week.

O.K., so our imaginations got carried away a little. Nicklaus bogeyed the 5th and 6th on Sunday and was never in it after that. And when Huston bogeyed 1, 2, 5 and 7, you knew it was fade to black for him, too.

That left Faldo vs. Floyd. American vs. Brit. U.S. Ryder Cup captain vs. British Ryder Cup star. A 32-year-old trying to become the first player to win back-to-back green jackets since Nicklaus did so in 1965-66 vs. a 47-year-old who hadn't won anything for four years and was trying to become the oldest man ever to win a Masters.

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