Five Biggest Comebacks in Majors

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Winning one of golf's Majors is no easy task and, for every fallen leader, there's a barnstorming comeback story as well. Here are five great Sunday charges to Major glory.

Augusta National golf course

Major championship golf is the most demanding environment the sport provides and closing the deal on these grandest of stages isn’t easy.

When leaders falter, the pack senses blood and here are the five biggest final-day comeback in the golf’s Majors.

5: Nick Faldo (1996 Masters, Augusta, Georgia)

Greg Norman was looking good to become the first Australian to win the Masters until he endured an epic final-round collapse – one so heartbreaking that the Great White Shark was reduced to a nervous wreck.

Norman ended up broken on the shoulder of Nick Faldo – the man who took advantage of the Aussie’s meltdown to claim a third Masters title.

Faldo started the final round six shots behind Norman, but the ice-cool Englishman finished the tournament five shots ahead of his rival.

Faldo’s Sunday 67 was 11 shots superior to Norman’s 78 – and the crestfallen runner-up never managed to earn a Green Jacket in his career.

4: Gary Player (1978 Masters, Augusta, Georgia)

Like Nick Faldo, South African legend Gary Player won his third Masters title in remarkable fashion, giving himself a mountain to climb on the Sunday afternoon before producing an incredible finishing flourish.

Player was seven shots behind going into the final round. Hubert Green was setting the pace, while Tom Watson was tied for second, so Player was not given much hope of emerging from tenth place to threaten the leaders.

Having picked up only one shot in his opening eight holes, it seemed Player’s race was run, but he covered the closing ten holes in seven under par to pip the field by a shot.

The 18th hole has always been one of the toughest at Augusta, but Player delivered a birdie before waiting 40 minutes in the clubhouse to see if his 11-under-par total would be enough for victory – which it duly was.

3: John Mahaffey (1978 US PGA Championship, Oakmont, Pennsylvania)

The Masters was not the only dramatic Major of 1978 – the US PGA Championship also saw an amazing final-round fightback.

Tom Watson looked the likely victor for most of the tournament, leading after each of the first three rounds, taking a five-shot advantage into Sunday.

Watson was trying to win the US PGA for the first time, though, and got the wobbles, carding a two-over-par 73. John Mahaffey, in contrast to Watson, got stronger as the event wore on.

Mahaffey started his campaign with a 75, but the Texan went 12 under par for his final three rounds, overcoming a seven-shot Sunday deficit to earn a spot in a playoff against Watson and Jerry Pate, then winning with a birdie at the second extra hole.

2: Jack Burke Junior (1956 Masters, Augusta, Georgia)

Way back in 1956, Jack Burke Junior overcame an eight-shot final-round deficit to claim the Green Jacket.

As the pacesetting Ken Venturi made seven bogeys on the back nine, Burke drained a birdie putt at the 18th for shock victory.

1: Paul Lawrie (1999 Open, Carnoustie, Scotland)

The most spectacular comeback of all came when Jean van de Velde imploded on the final hole of hole of the 1999 Open, allowing Paul Lawrie to qualify for a playoff.

Lawrie started Sunday ten shots off the lead, but carded a magnificent round of 67 in atrocious weather condition.

That kept the Scot in the tournament when Van de Velde, who started the day with a five-shot lead, made a calamitous triple-bogey at the 72nd hole.

Lawrie won a four-hole aggregate playoff against Van de Velde and Justin Leonard by three shots.

Steve has been a Racing Post columnist, golf tipster and punter and is one of the most well-known tipsters in the country. Steve’s columns featuring golf betting tips have been must-read material for years.
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