Five Of The Biggest Final-Round Comebacks In Masters History

Anything can happen on the final day of the Masters...

Nick Faldo with Ben Crenshaw after winning the 1996 Masters
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As the only Major to return to the same course every year, The Masters and Augusta National has seen it all. Unexpected victories, drama, outstanding golf, and also comebacks. The tournament is never over, especially when you consider some of the treacherous holes players have to face coming down the stretch. 

As we've seen in the past, anything can happen on Sunday at the famous Georgia venue, so here we have taken a look back at five of the biggest comebacks in Masters history.

Jack Burke Jr, 1956 - eight shots

Jack Burke Jr after winning the 1956 Masters

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In the final Masters played without a cut, Jack Burke Jr overturned an eight-stroke deficit to defeat Ken Venturi by a single shot. Venturi, a 24-year-old amateur at the time, had led the whole way having posted an opening-round 66 – the lowest score ever at the Masters by an amateur.

However, on a difficult final day in which Burke Jr’s 71 was one of only two under-par rounds, Venturi carded a disappointing 80 to finish in second place, a shot behind his fellow American.

Gary Player, 1978 - seven shots

Gary Player being presented with the Green Jacket after winning the 1978 Masters

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Gary Player captured his ninth and final Major championship at the 1978 Masters, producing one of the greatest final-round comebacks in history. The South African trailed Hubert Green by seven shots after three rounds at Augusta National, but a brilliant 64, that included seven birdies in his final 10 holes, was good enough to clinch his third Green Jacket by a single shot.

Spare a thought for Tom Watson, who bogeyed the 72nd hole to miss out on a playoff, and then had to crown Player in the Butler Cabin as the defending champion.

Fuzzy Zoeller, 1979 - six shots

Fuzzy Zoeller celebrates after holing the winning putt at the 1979 Masters

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At the 1979 Masters, Ed Sneed took a commanding five-stroke lead over Tom Watson and Craig Stadler into the final day, but it was another famous name who would triumph.

Playing in his first Masters, Fuzzy Zoeller came from six back to post eight-under in the clubhouse, which got him into a playoff after Sneed bogeyed the final three holes. Watson joined the sudden-death shootout but it would be Zoeller who emerged victorious. 

All three parred the 10th, before moving to the tough 11th, where Zoeller converted his six-foot birdie putt to win the first of his two Major titles. 

Sir Nick Faldo, 1996 - six shots

Greg Norman collapses on the final green at Augusta National after losing the 1996 Masters

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Now we come to arguably the most well-known comeback in Masters history. Back in 1996 Greg Norman surrendered a six-shot lead to Sir Nick Faldo. The Englishman was looking to win his third Green Jacket and put himself in the best position, birdieing the 17th in round three to all but book his place in the final group.

Looking back, Norman says he should have realised his timing was off as early as the fourth hole, when his tee shot into the long par-3 came up short. But hindsight is a wonderful thing.

As the players turned for home, the Australian still led by two but that quickly changed. Two consecutive bogeys and things were level heading to the treacherous 12th, where Norman’s weak effort drifted right and into Rae’s Creek. The resultant double-bogey gave Faldo a two-shot advantage of his own and he never looked back.

By the time the pair walked up 18, Norman trailed by four, with Faldo striking one final blow on the 72nd green. A closing birdie wrapped up an impressive 67 for the Englishman, who beat his playing partner by 11 on the day to win his third and final Masters title by five.

Charl Schwartzel, 2011 - four shots

Charl Schwartzel celebrates after winning the 2011 Masters

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Like 1996, the final round of the 2011 Masters will live long in the memory. Having been in a league of his own for the opening 54 holes, Rory McIlroy led by four over Angel Cabrera, K.J. Choi, Jason Day and Charl Schwartzel.

However, the Northern Irishman’s back-nine collapse – in which he dropped six shots in three holes from the 10th to the 12th – paved the way for the rest to battle it out on one of the most dramatic final days in the tournament’s history.

Schwartzel emerged as the champion thanks to birdies on the final four holes en route to a two-shot victory over Day and Adam Scott.

Andrew Wright
Staff Writer

A lifelong golf fan, Andy graduated in 2019 with a degree in Sports Journalism and got his first role in the industry as the Instruction Editor for National Club Golfer. From there, he went on to enjoy a spell freelancing for Stats Perform producing football reports, and then for RacingNews365 covering Formula 1. However, he couldn't turn down the opportunity to get back into the sport he grew up watching and playing and now covers a mixture of equipment, instruction and news for Golf Monthly's website and print title.

Andy took up the game at the age of seven and even harboured ambitions of a career in the professional ranks for a spell. That didn’t pan out, but he still enjoys his weekend golf at Royal Troon and holds a scratch handicap. As a side note, he's made five holes-in-one and could quite possibly be Retief Goosen’s biggest fan.

As well as the above, some of Andy's work has featured on websites such as,, and

What's in Andy's bag?

Driver: Callaway Mavrik Sub-Zero (9°)

3-wood: TaylorMade Stealth 2 Plus (15°)

Driving iron: Titleist U500 (17°)

Irons: Callaway Apex Pro '19 (4-PW)

Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM9 (50°, 54° and 58°)

Putter: TaylorMade Spider X

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x