Part three of our five-part look at the international impact on the Masters examines the years before the turn of the century, when European players continued the groundbreaking work of Seve Ballesteros to establish a period of dominance at Augusta.
After the work of Ballesteros in the 1980s, it was time for the British contingent on the European Tour to stand up and be counted at Augusta.
By 1988, Britain had still never had a winner at the Masters. When Ian Woosnam slipped on the Green Jacket in 1991, it had won the last four.
Sandy Lyle had earlier become the first British winner of The Open since Tony Jacklin in 1969 when he lifted the Claret Jug in 1985, and it was the Scot who blazed a trail again three years later when he became the first British winner at Augusta.
It was a victory characterised by his nerveless shot from the fairway bunker at the 18th on the Sunday, when his perfect pick-up found the green and the ball rolled back down the slope to within eight feet of the cup to set up a one-shot victory over Mark Calcavecchia.
Lyle had been paired with Jack Nicklaus on the Sunday two years previously, when Nicklaus made his famous back-nine charge to claim his 18th and final major championship, and having broken the seal, Lyle’s win sparked a mini period of dominance for British players at Augusta.
The following year, Nick Faldo recovered from a disastrous third-round 77 with a seven-under 65 on the Sunday before winning with a birdie on the second hole of a play-off with Scott Hoch.
Lyle, having missed the cut as defending champion, wore a kilt and served haggis at the Champions Dinner, and in 1990 Faldo followed Nicklaus in becoming just the second player to successfully defend his title – in another play-off.
This one saw him beat Raymond Floyd at the second extra hole, denying the American his bid to win a major in four different decades. Floyd had led by four shots with six to play before Faldo’s late surge, prompting Floyd to call the defeat the most devastating thing that’s ever happened to me in my career.
Woosnam then made it four consecutive British winners with a one-shot win over Jose Maria Olazabal and the 1990s continued to be littered with European winners as Olazabal claimed his two major wins (1994, 1999), Bernhard Langer (1993) won for the second time and Faldo won his third green jacket (1996).
It would not last, though. Europe’s cycle was complete. After Olazabal’s two-shot win from Davis Love III in 1999 there would not be another European winner until Danny Willett in 2016.
The reason? Tiger Woods, mostly. In 1997, a year after Faldo won his sixth and final major, he was helping Woods climb into his first green jacket after a record-breaking 12-shot win over Tom Kite. The image could not better represent the changing of the guard.
Faldo and co’s work was done, and it is clear from the distance of hindsight just how much they did to inspire the current generation of British and European golfers.
This was Tiger’s time though…