3 APRIL, 2022 - SHANK MEDIA, BY MATT HOOPER: Modern golf originated in Scotland in the fifteenth century and the widely regarded Home of Golf is St Andrews in Fife, Scotland and from the first Open Championship at Prestwick in 1860 to the 1910 US Open at Philadelphia Cricket Club the championships of golf were absolutely dominated by Scottish and English golfers, winning 65 out of the first 66 Majors played before John McDermott won back-to-back United States Open Championships in 1911 and 1912. 
At the heart of this British dominance of early championship golf was The Great Triumvirate, the first great trio of golfers who dominated The Open Championship between 1894 and 1914, winning a combined 17 Majors including 16 Open Championships and 1 US Open. Harry Vardon, James Braid and John Henry Taylor won 7, 5 and 5 Majors respectively and remain among the leading five most successful European golfers of all time. Vardon's record of 6 Open Championships set in 1914 has yet to be matched let alone surpassed and the same can be said for his total of 7 Majors for a European golfer. 
Another great British golfer of the era was Scotsman Willie Anderson, and his total of four United States Open Championships achieved in 1904 has only been matched by Ben Hogan and Jack Nicklaus and has not been surpassed in the last 118 years.
The 1913 US Open however changed this and was a seminal moment for the game of golf in the United States, Amateur Francis Ouimet's stunning play-off win over Harry Vardon and Ted Ray sparked the first great golfing boom in America and between 1913 and 1933 the 51 Majors played in that period were split 40 to the United States and 11 to England and Scotland. 
The PGA Championship was established in 1916 and in 1934 the first Augusta National Invitation Tournament was staged at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta Georgia, it would be 25 years before the notion of the Grand Slam was widely accepted but golf's four majors were in place. 
In the era of the four major championships no British golfer won a Major in the United States between 1933 and 1969 until Tony Jacklin broke through at the 1970 US Open at Hazeltine National, winning by 7 on what was regarded as one of the hardest championship courses ever set up.
It would be another 18 years before a Brit triumphed in the United States of America.

Sandy Lyle was born in Shrewsbury, England but grew up in Scotland and represented Scotland at Amateur level, he was a prodigious talent in his youth and turned professional at the age of 19 in 1977, the same year in which Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus did battle for The Open Championship at Turnberry. 
Lyle won 12 tournaments around the world before his major breakthrough at Royal St George's in the 1985 Open Championship, this victory gave the Scot the opportunity to go to America and compete full time and he won four PGA Tour events in 1986, 87 and 88 including the 1987 Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass. 
The winning score of 14-under-par over the Stadium course was the lowest achieved in the six editions of the tournament at TPC Sawgrass, he would also go on to win the Greater Greensboro Open, the week prior to The Masters of 1988. 
Following two high finishes at Augusta in '86 and '87 Lyle was ready to claim a second Major title and allied with the experience of knowing he could win in America on a regular basis the first Major of the year held no fears for the 29-year-old. 
Lyle began the 1988 Masters with a one-under-par 71 on a day when scoring was at a premium but bounced to a five-under-par 67 and 6-under for the first two rounds put him into the lead and he had as good a chance as any Brit since Peter Oosterhuis in 1973 to become the first from our islands to claim a green jacket. 
A third round of 72 left him at 6-under for 54 holes and leading going into the final round, the interest in Great Britain was immense as the primetime coverage was beamed to millions of homes across the UK by the BBC. 
Lyle stretched his lead to two shots at the turn but a double-bogey at the par three 12th hole saw him slip into a tie with Mark Calcavecchia, and he missed opportunities for birdie at both the par five 13th and 15th leaving himself one behind Calcavecchia with three holes to play. 
He made a 12 foot birdie putt at the 16th to draw back level with the American, before parring the 17th and going to the 18th knowing he needed to birdie the hole to avoid a play-off and claim the title. 
Only twice before had this been achieved, by Arnold Palmer in 1960 and Gary Player in 1974. His task was made all the harder by the pummelled 2-iron he hit into the fairway bunkers on the left of the 72nd hole, a seemingly fatal blow if not to his hopes of a play-off but almost certainly to his hopes of a birdie to win.
What followed was perhaps the purest strike of a golf ball in a pressure situation ever seen, from the up-slope of the bunker and in an 'iffy' lie Lyle's 7-iron from the bunker sailed over the pin and rolled slowly but surely back down to the same level as the hole. 
The resulting 6-foot putt slipped into the side of the hole and Lyle performed the now infamous jig in celebration. The Scot joined Palmer and Player as a champion who birdied the final hole to win and made history as the first British winner of The Masters and first Brit to win a Major on American soil since Tony Jacklin. 
His win was the fourth European win at Augusta in 9 Masters and would launch an unprecedented era of British success at Augusta, four years of domination and dramatic wins on the 18th hole and beyond.
The 1987 Open Champion Nick Faldo took up the game after watching Nicklaus play in the 1971 Masters on television, he was so inspired he started playing within the next few days and with five years he was a professional and he won in his second season as a professional and was playing at Augusta just 3 years after turning professional. 
A rapid rise indeed. Following a final round 76 in the 1984 Masters that saw him go from a tie for the 54-hole lead to a tie for 15th Faldo decided that changes were needed to his swing in order to compete more consistently in the Major Championships. 
The changes, under the tutelage of David Leadbetter, made Faldo even better than he was at a young age and he made his major breakthrough at the 1987 Open Championship at Muirfield and a two-win season in 1988 set up Faldo for a crack at the major which slipped through his fingers 5 years earlier. 
The Englishman began with a 4-under-par 68 to sit one stroke behind Lee Trevino in a tournament which was defined by wind and rain and only 10 players broke par on Thursday, with only 3 doing so on Friday Faldo managed to tie for the lead with Trevino despite posting a 73 in the second round. 
The terrible weather forced the third round into Sunday and Faldo started appallingly playing the first 12 holes in 3-over-par to fall four shots behind Ben Crenshaw with 5 holes to play on Sunday morning. On the resumption on Sunday morning Faldo didn't fare any better and limped home to a 77 and finished 54-holes in a tie for 9th place and fully five shots adrift of Crenshaw, it appeared as though his Masters chance had slipped away again. 
But the swing changes were made to make Faldo more capable of competing for Majors on a consistent basis and he wasn't going give up on a second major title without giving it a good go in the final round. 
Scoring improved generally and Ben Crenshaw's 71 saw him slip back into the pack as Faldo and Scott Hoch took full advantage, in an exciting final round 6 different players held at least a share of the lead and a stunning final round 65 featuring 8 birdie from the Englishman saw him post 5-under in the clubhouse ahead of Scott Hoch. 
Hoch had the opportunity to clinch his first major after making a birdie at the fifteenth hole to reach -6 and Greg Norman and Ben Crenshaw also had the opportunity to reach 6-under but both going into the final hole at 5-under made bogeys to fall out of contention. Hoch bogeyed the 17th hole and had to settle for a play-off with Faldo in the gathering gloom.

In the play-off Hoch had another golden chance to put it away with a stunning approach to the tenth hole setting up what seemed like a straightforward birdie, two feet away from the green jacket. 
The North Carolina native inexplicably missed and allowed Faldo off the hook following his bunkered approach, the tournament continued to the 11th hole where the Englishman would strike.
Following a pushed approach by Hoch and a chip to six feet Faldo had a 25-foot putt in the gloomy conditions to win, and it went into the hole like a rabbit down a burrow, the gallery erupted and Faldo punched the air in euphoric joy at winning The Masters and fulfilling a 20-year dream.
The only golfer ever to have defended the green jacket was Jack Nicklaus, but in 1990 that was to change as Faldo, in an almost carbon copy of 1989, claimed a second successive play-off win on the 11th hole after starting the final round with a double-bogey to fall five shots behind with 17 holes to play. Six birdies and a bogey later he found himself tied with Raymond Floyd and heading down the tenth hole in search of history. 
They both parred the first extra hole and when Floyd's approach found the pond to the left of the 11th green Faldo required only two putts for a piece of golfing history, the first Brit to win twice at Augusta and only the second player ever to defend the green jacket.
In 1991 Faldo was set to make history and become the first golfer ever to win three successive Masters titles, he made a decent go at it and finished in a tie for twelfth but the British baton was handed from a Scotsman to an Englishman to a Welshman as Ian Woosnam claimed a dramatic final hole victory over fellow European Jose Maria Olazabal. 

The “wee Welshman” made a courageous 5 foot putt on the 72nd green to clinch a one-stroke victory and complete an incredible period of British domination at Augusta. Nick Faldo would complete a remarkable hat-trick of comeback wins in 1996 when he shot 67 to Greg Norman's 77 to overturn a 5 shot deficit for the third time.
Words by Matt Hooper
Image by Shannon Hurst Lane

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