Masters 2020 Hindsight

By Rex HoggardApril 2, 2010, 10:18 pm

It’s hard to imagine now, but like all things time has softened the edges and helped explain a great many things about Sir Nick Faldo.

Since he passed his playing prime, we’ve learned the hard-nosed competitor is an adapt storyteller with a keen sense of humor. During a recent conversation with the three-time Masters champion we also learned that the Englishman was superstitious. Not rabbit foot and four-day socks superstitious, but more attuned to the forces of chance than his icy exterior ever suggested.

During a recent conversation on the 20th anniversary of his second Masters triumph even Faldo marveled at how the cosmic tumblers cascaded into proper order in 1990.

The first sign was the official poster, which featured an image of Faldo on the 11th green celebrating his overtime victory over Scott Hoch a year earlier. And when he began his final round three shots behind Raymond Floyd, Faldo recalls being paired with Jack Nicklaus, who, at that time, was the only other player to win back-to-back green jackets.


Nick Faldo
Nick Faldo hugs his caddie after winning the 1990 Masters. (Getty Images)
“A little omen,” Faldo thought at the time.

Even when Faldo began his final round with a double bogey-6 he never doubted his title chances thanks, in large part, to encouraging premonitions about his title defense and a new face on his bag.

“I was twisted up about going to defend,” Faldo said. “I told myself 'you are not going to defend. You are going to win another Masters'.”

That effort was aided by the addition of Fanny Sunesson to Team Faldo. Although Sunesson would remain on Faldo’s bag for the remainder of his Hall of Fame career, the ’90 Masters was her first major with Faldo, and her first visit to Augusta National.

“To walk out to this magnificent golf course, it was awesome. All the history, just amazing,” recalls Sunesson. “I hadn’t seen it much on TV. They don’t show (the Masters) much in Sweden.”

If having a greenhorn caddie concerned Faldo, those fears didn’t last long. The two played their first practice round together on the Sunday before the tournament, a process that forced Faldo to focus on strategy and golf course management.

“That did a world of good for me because in the practice rounds I would do running commentary of what I wanted to do. Visually it was very powerful,” said Faldo, who teamed with Sunesson in January 1990.

Both Sunesson and Faldo got better with each round, posting cards of 71-72-66 to move into the hunt. Even the Englishman’s three-stroke, 54-hole deficit was of little concern. A year earlier, when Faldo collected his first green jacket, he’d started the final turn five strokes off the lead.

In hindsight, Faldo believes his charge began at the 12th hole, where his tee shot had plugged in a greenside bunker and the distance between himself and the top of the leaderboard had expanded to four strokes.

“Made an amazing up and down at 12,” Faldo said. “I had a plugged lie in the bunker, do or die moment and I just stuck the club in the ground. Hit it to 12 feet and holed the putt.”

Faldo birdied three of his next four holes, including a deuce at the par-3 16th hole. “I had a weird kind of dream of making 2 there,” he said.

It was a classic back-nine Sunday charge. The kind of rally some say the new Augusta National repeals, but in 1990 it was a quintessential Masters moment welcomed by a thunderous chorus that echoed through the pines.

“When you are at Augusta you have to play so defensively all week and wait unitl you get into a position where you can get brave,” Faldo said. “If you pull it off you can win the Masters. If you fail it will cost you the tournament.”

Faldo’s bravado was rewarded, he signed for a closing 69 to tie Floyd, who bogeyed the 17th hole, at 278. The playoff, however, was anticlimactic by comparison. Faldo matched Floyd at the first extra hole, scrambling for par at the downhill 10th and was struck with a wave of déjà vu as he stepped to the 11th tee.

“At 11, I had mixed emotions from last year,” said Faldo, who clipped Hoch a year earlier on the same hole with a dramatic 25-foot birdie putt.

What happened next stunned Faldo, to say nothing of Floyd. From the middle of the 11th fairway Floyd pulled a 7-iron from 176 yards into a pond that was guarding the left side of the green.

“It all happened in a 2-second flash,” Faldo said of Floyd’s miscue. “It was a weird feeling. I hit a little 8-iron down the hill and the best lag putt of my life.”

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The surprise of Floyd’s miscue aside, the ’90 Masters played out almost exactly the way Faldo envisioned it would. A four-part drama that remained on script until the very end, to a bookend green jacket ceremony and a knowing smile.

“I used to have little dreams of the day ahead or the next major. Premonitions,” Faldo said. “When you look at my reaction I knew it was going to be my day.”

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Horschel (68) builds on momentum at Valero

By Will GrayApril 20, 2018, 12:32 am

Billy Horschel only ever needs to see a faint glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.

While some players require a slow ascent from missed cuts to contending on the weekend, Horschel's switches between the two can often be drastic. Last year he missed three straight cuts before defeating Jason Day in a playoff to win the AT&T Byron Nelson, a turnaround that Horschel said "still shocks me to this day."

The veteran is at it again, having missed five of six cuts prior to last week's RBC Heritage. But a few tweaks quickly produced results, as Horschel tied for fifth at Harbour Town. He wasted no time in building on that momentum with a bogey-free, 4-under 68 to open the Valero Texas Open that left him one shot behind Grayson Murray.

"I'm a big momentum player. I've got to get the train moving forward," Horschel told reporters Thursday. "I've always been a guy who gets on a little roll, get that train moving and jump into the winner's circle. So yeah, it would have been great to win last week, but it was just nice to play four really good rounds of golf."

Many big names tend to skip this week's stop at TPC San Antonio, but Horschel has managed to thrive on the difficult layout in recent years. He finished third in both 2013 and 2015, and tied for fourth in 2016.

With a return next week to the Zurich Classic of New Orleans where he notched his first career win in 2013 and a title defense in Dallas on the horizon, Horschel believes he's turning things around at just the right time.

"Gets the momentum going, carry it into this week, next week, which I've had a lot of success at," Horschel said. "Really the rest of the year, from here on in I have a lot of really good events I've played well in."

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Three years later, PXG launches new iron

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 19, 2018, 11:22 pm

Three years is a long time between launches of club lines, but Bob Parsons, founder and CEO of PXG, says his company had a very good reason for waiting that long to introduce its second-generation irons.

“Three years ago, when we introduced our first generation 0311 iron, we made a commitment that we would not release a product unless it was significantly better than our existing product,” Parsons said. “:Our GEN2 irons are better than our GEN1 irons in every respect. We believe it’s the best iron ever made, and the second-best iron ever made is our GEN1 iron.”

PXG’s 0311 GEN2 irons, which officially went on sale today, feature what the company says is the world’s thinnest clubface. They have a forged 8620 soft carbon steel body and PXG’s signature weighting technology. The hollow clubheads are filled with a new polymer material that PXG says not only dampens vibration, but also produces higher ball speeds and thus more distance.

The irons come in four “collections” – Tour Performance, Players, Xtreme Forgiveness and Super Game Improvement.

Cost is $400 per iron, or $500 for PXG’s “Extreme Dark” finish. Price includes custom fitting. For more information, visit www.pxg.com.

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Maggert and Parnevik lead at Bass Pro Shops

By Associated PressApril 19, 2018, 10:49 pm

RIDGEDALE, Mo. - Jeff Maggert and Jesper Parnevik shot an 8-under 63 in better-ball play Thursday to take the first-round lead in the PGA Tour Champions' chilly Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf.

''It was very relaxing for me because I felt like terrible,'' Parnevik said. ''I was so stiff this morning. It was freezing cold. I thought if I can just try to make some pars in case he ever makes a bogey, but I didn't even have to do that.''

Playing together for the first time in the team event, Maggert and Parnevik eagled the par-5 eighth and had six birdies in the cool and breezy conditions on Big Cedar Lodge's Buffalo Ridge course.

''We play well together,'' Maggert said. ''We both contributed a lot. Jesper had a lot of birdies and an eagle on our final nine. It was so cold this morning, I just was going to come out and just try to hit fairways and greens. Really I wasn't thinking about making birdies, I was just trying to play steady and give myself an opportunity to have some birdie putts.''


Full-field scores from the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf


The next three rounds will be played on par-3 courses. Maggert and Parnevik will play the 18-hole Top of the Rock on Friday and Sunday, and the 13-hole Mountain Top on Saturday.

Mark Calcavecchia and Woody Austin were a stroke back. They also eagled No. 8. Austin won the 2016 title with Michael Allen. Calcavecchia won the Boca Raton Championship this year.

''I lucked in a few birdies on the back, but it was tough, tough conditions,'' Calcavecchia said. ''Even when it warmed up a little bit, it was still tough to make birdies out there. All in all, 7 under's a pretty good start.''

Bernhard Langer and Tom Lehman were at 65 along with Davis Love III-Scott Verplank, 2015 winners Billy Andrade-Joe Durant, Paul Broadhurst-Kirk Triplett and Steve Flesch-David Toms.

''We kind of brother-in-lawed or ham-and-egged it or partnered it,'' Love said. ''Neither one of us were playing great, but we had one guy in every hole and that's kind of what you have to do. We're going to have to go to the par 3 courses and get two birdie putts on a hole is what you really want to do and we didn't do that enough today.''

Flesch won the Mitsubishi Electric Classic last week for his first senior title.

Madison, Wisconsin, friends Steve Stricker and Jerry Kelly were tied for 22nd at 68.

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Dredge, Quiros share early lead in Morocco

By Associated PressApril 19, 2018, 8:41 pm

RABAT, Morocco - Bradley Dredge reeled off three birdies in his last five holes to share the lead with Alvaro Quiros after the opening round of the European Tour's Trophee Hassan II event Thursday.

Quiros finished with two straight birdies as the big-hitting Spaniard joined Welshman Dredge on 5-under-par 67.

Dredge, who made seven birdies in all, has won twice before but his last triumph came in 2006.


Full-field scores from the Trophee Hassan II


Quiros, who has claimed seven victories, last won at the Rocco Forte Open in Sicily last year.

The joint leaders have a one-shot advantage over Oliver Fisher, Joakim Lagergren, Erik Van Rooyen and Lorenzo Gagli at the Royal Golf Dar Es Salam course.

Former U.S. Masters champion Danny Willett, without a win since his victory at Augusta two years ago, opened with a 1-over 73.