119th Open - St Andrews 1990
Flawless Faldo sets record at the Old Course
For one of the few times in his career Nick Faldo arrived at a Major Championship not just hoping to win but expecting to. He had already defended his Masters title and finished one stroke away from a play-off at the US Open. He knew his main rival would be Greg Norman, still officially the world No 1.
“It’s nice to have my baby back. My stomach was churning. With a five-stroke lead, everybody expected me to win.”
Norman opened with twin rounds of 66, while Faldo had a 67, thanks to holing a pitch-and-run through the Valley of Sin for an eagle-2 at the 18th, and then a 65. The pair were tied on 12 under par, four strokes ahead of the field. The anticipation for their duel over the weekend was high but it never materialised. Norman lost rhythm on his putting and limped to a 76 on Saturday. Playing alongside the Australian, Faldo marched on with a 67. It was a defining physiological blow in their rivalry which would be eerily repeated in the final round of the 1996 Masters.
Faldo’s total of 199 strokes for 54 holes was a new record. He had a five-stroke lead on the field and although Payne Stewart got within two before driving into the Coffins at the 13th, Faldo eased ahead again. He had not been in a bunker all week until the fourth hole of the final round. For the only time in his three Open triumphs, he could enjoy the acclamation from the gallery as he walked up the 18th fairway. Where better to do it than on the Old Course? He won by five strokes from Stewart and Mark McNulty and set a new record score of 18 under par. “It’s nice to have my baby back,” he said clutching the Claret Jug. “My stomach was churning. With a five-stroke lead, everybody expected me to win.”