It’s fair to say that when it comes to the US Masters, the Americans are certainly the masters of the golf course at Augusta. Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus have won a whopping 11 Masters titles between them.
But there have been times when the Europeans have reigned supreme over their rivals from across the pond. While Rory McIlroy gears up as a favourite at Augusta this year, we take a look back at Europeans who have tasted glory at the US Masters. Don’t forget to check out the Masters odds to see where McIlroy stands.
It’s only right to start with the last European to win the tournament. Spain’s Sergio Garcia is regarded as one of the top players in the sport presently, and he proved his talent in 2017 by winning a playoff after the final round.
Had the playoff finished differently, then this would have been dedicated to England’s Justin Rose. For most of the tournament, it seemed as though the pair couldn’t stay away from each other on the scoreboard.
After round one, America’s Charlie Hoffman led with seven under par, while Garcia, Rose and six other players were tied in fourth place, six shots behind him. Round two saw Hoffman’s lead crumble after he shot 75, 10 shots more than in the first round. This allowed Garcia to draw level with the American, along with Rickie Fowler and Thomas Peters. Justin Rose was tied in sixth position, three shots behind the leaders.
Rose and Garcia once again found themselves tied after the third round, sharing the lead ahead of Rickie Fowler. Could one of them take the spoils in the final round? No. They managed to hold off a late charge from South Africa’s Charl Schwartzel, but nothing could separate the two.
A playoff was needed. They each played the par four 18th hole again. They had contrasting starts as Rose landed among the trees, and Garcia on the fairway. From there Garcia had the advantage and putted for birdie, with the Englishman mustering a only a bogey. The title was Garcia’s.
In 2016, Danny Willett broke the 17-year streak that saw no European golfer win the US Masters after Spain’s José María Olazábal did so in 1999.
England’s Danny Willett barely scraped the top ten after the first round, being joint ninth with Scott Piercy, Billy Horschel, and Rory McIlroy.
As Piercy and McIlroy climbed up the leaderboard after round two, Willett was still fighting to stay inside the top ten. It was only after round three that Willett began to climb up the leaderboard himself. After shooting 72 in round three, he was tied in fifth position with Jason Day and Dustin Johnson, lying three points behind leader Jordan Spieth.
Willett saved his best until last, shooting 67, while Spieth capitulated and could only manage a 73. As other challengers failed to match Willett’s scored, he finished as the outright winner, three shots ahead of Spieth.
Sir Nick Faldo
With three US Masters titles, Sir Nick Faldo is the most successful European to play at Augusta. The Englishman picked up victories at the 1989, 1990 and 1996 Masters.
His first title was secured in a playoff with Scott Hoch of the United States, with Faldo edging out his opponent. He had been in and around the top two positions until the third round, when he dropped down to tied ninth. But an incredible fourth round saw him claw his way back to the top to finish joint first with Hoch, before seeing him off in the playoff.
The defending champion in 1990, Faldo started off slowly, failing to reach the top ten after the first round. He tied tenth in round two, before climbing up to third in round three. Raymond Floyd had been the leader since round two and after the final 18 holes, he held that lead, but was tied with Faldo. The Englishman again held his nerve in a playoff and saw off Floyd to claim consecutive Masters victories.
His third title was a much more straightforward affair, as Faldo battled with Australia’s Greg Norman for much of it. In the end though Faldo finished comfortably as the winner, five shots clear of Norman, who had suffered a final round capitulation. Sir Nick had made history, becoming the most successful European in Masters history.