A bit overshadowed by five-time winner Tom Watson, who also hung up his golf socks for the last time at The Open Championship over the weekend, Sir Nick Faldo, the best English golfer of the modern era, said goodbye to St. Andrews on Friday.
Faldo turned 58 on Saturday, one day after he missed the cut despite a spirited 1-under 71 on Friday that included just the second birdie of his lengthy career on No. 17, the notorious Road Hole.
“I walked to the bridge. I didn’t care what happened then. I had just birdied 17. That relaxed me. I had already planned the sweater thing, be cool to stand on the bridge in my 1987 Pringle,” Faldo said. “I was unbelievably fortunate, the 17th, shoot 71, hit so many good shots like the good old days then walk up the last. Doesn’t get better than that.”
Largely known for his on-air broadcasting for CBS and the BBC since 2006, Faldo win 41 professional tournaments, 30 of those on the European Tour – fifth all-time.
He joined the World Golf hall of Fame in 1997 and has won six Majors – the Open in 1987, 1990, and 1992, and The Masters in 1989, 1990, and 1996. He finished second at the 1998 US Open and the 1992 PGA Championship.
Here is a look back at his three wins at The Open Championship.
1987 at Muirfield (Scotland): He was a 29-year-old without a Major when the tournament started, and a 30-year-old winner by the time it ended. Australia’s Rodger Davis set a torrid pace early with an opening-round 64, and Faldo was tied for fifth, four strokes back. He was down a stroke after 36 holes and again after 54, but trailed Paul Azinger by three strokes at the turn on a gray, misty Sunday. On the par-5 17th, Azinger hit a fairway bunker for a bogey while Faldo parred. Azinger’s approach shot from the fairway on the 18th found a bunker left of the green for a second bogey, while Faldo recorded his 18th straight par of the day for the title.
1990 at St. Andrews (Scotland): This time the Open started a day after Faldo’s birthday – his 33rd – and found him now the winner of two more Majors, including The Masters earlier that year. His first-round 67 saw him a stroke behind co-leaders Greg Norman and Michael Allen, and he and Norman set a torrid pace, each reaching 12-under at the midway point. Faldo continued to blow the doors off the course on Saturday, with his second 67 of the round, dropping to 17-under and opening up a 5-stroke lead. His final-round 71 saw him cruise to a 5-stroke victory at 18-under, one of the most dominating Major performances in modern history. He was the first golfer since Watson in 1982 to win The Masters and The Open in the same year.
1992 at Muirfield: His fifth Major came on the same course as his first one. He shot 66-64 on his first two rounds, setting a new tournament record and opening up a 3-stroke lead. He was 14-under through three rounds, with Steve Pate and John Cook both four strokes back, and held off Cook to win by one stroke, finishing 12-under.
Faldo threatened several more times at The Open, finishing second in 1993, eighth in 1994, fourth in 1996, and eighth in 2003 at age 46. He added one more Major to his trophy case by virtue of the 1996 Masters and spent 97 weeks at the top of the Offical World Golf Rankings for 97 weeks, the third-most ever. Eighty-one of those weeks came consecutively, good for fourth all-time.