With only a one-shot lead at the 11th, Norman punched to the green in regulation. However, his 12ft birdie effort shaved the lip. Even worse, the returning two-footer also stayed out. Bogey. The lead was now gone.
Despite his outstanding play in the first three rounds, Norman had already flirted with danger at the infamous par-3 12th: on Friday his ball missed the green and rested on the bank (a la Fred Couples in 1992); on Saturday it slid into Rae’s Creek. On Sunday, after Faldo had hit his tee shot to the left of the pin, Norman watched as his 7-iron ran up short, gripped for a second that must have felt like an age, before slipping back into the water. Double bogey. Faldo two-up.
After making birdie at the 13th (which Faldo also did), Norman looked to be settling. In somewhat of a sympathy vote, the Augusta galleries were now firmly rooting for the victim of the carnage. No more so on the 15th, where Norman’s chip for eagle glided past the hole when it had looked in all the way. As Norman collapsed to the ground, the groans that echoed suggested any lingering hope had now gone.
With Faldo still two-up at the par-3 16th, Norman’s final nail came when he hooked into the water short and left. Double bogey. Faldo by four. Two holes later, the Englishman would close with a final birdie for a 67. From six behind he had won his third Green Jacket by a now emphatic five strokes. Embracing his beaten opponent, he would later reveal his private words as, “Don’t let the bastards get to you,” referring to the treatment that would follow from the world’s golfing press. But there was little sniping to be done – and Norman was as gracious in defeat as Faldo was sporting in victory.
US Masters: Augusta hole-by-hole guide
Generation Game: Gene Sarazen and Padraig Harrington winners with Wilson Staff