Masters: Ian Woosnam relives Augusta triumph 25 years on

By Dafydd PritchardBBC Wales Sport
Ian Woosnam receives the green jacket from Nick Faldo after winning the 1991 Masters
Ian Woosnam receives the green jacket from Nick Faldo after winning the 1991 Masters

The putt, the fist-pump, the red chequered trousers. Ian Woosnam's 1991 win at the Masters was as iconic as it was historic.

It is 25 years since the diminutive golfer from Oswestry became the first - and still only - Welshman to win one of golf's major tournaments.

Woosnam will be making his 28th appearance at Augusta National this week, and the famous course has lost none of its lustre for the man known as 'Woosie'.

"It's hard to believe really. Time has flown past," he tells BBC Wales Sport.

"Coming down Magnolia Lane and seeing the clubhouse again, I've been coming here for years now but it never changes, that feeling.

"I can't believe it's 25 years. The rhododendrons and the azaleas are out - it's even more beautiful than ever.

"It's like going to heaven. This is the kind of course you want when you pass away."

Now 58, Woosnam is not one to dwell on his past success.

His competitive spirit is intact on the European Seniors Tour - and his status as a former winner means he can still play at the Masters despite now being ranked 1,742 in the world.

Ian Woosnam
Ian Woosnam at the 2015 Senior Open Championship at Sunningdale

In the week leading up to his 1991 triumph, however, Woosnam was the world number one.

"It gave me confidence to think I was the best player," he recalls.

"I had to prove to people it's not just being number one - I had to get a major to go with it.

"There was no doubt I was good enough, it was just about putting it all together at the right time.

"When you see the guys like [Nick] Faldo, [Sandy] Lyle, [Bernhard] Langer - those guys before you - it was my time. I was desperate for it.

"It was great to get the major under my belt."

The moment of glory

Tom Watson
Tom Watson sinks an eagle putt on the 13th hole on his way to setting up a tense finale at the 1991 Masters

The names Woosnam mentions are an indication of the illustrious opponents he faced during his peak.

His main rivals for the final round in 1991 were the legendary Tom Watson, who already had two Masters titles, and Jose Maria Olazabal, who would also go on to win the championship twice.

The three players were all tied at -11 as they embarked on the final hole.

Olazabal, a group ahead of Woosnam and Watson, missed his par putt for a bogey on the 18th.

Watson, who had eagled both 13 and 15, then hit a double bogey, leaving Woosnam with a relatively short putt to claim the prized green jacket.

"You're on that putting green when you're a little kid, thinking you're Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson," says Woosnam.

"And there I am with a seven-foot putt for the Masters.

"I had the comfort of knowing if I missed it I was in a play-off.

Ian Woosnam
Ian Woosnam celebrates his winning putt on the 18th hole

"I thought about that and I think it helped take the pressure off and to help me make a smooth stroke."

The ball dropped in the hole, a crouching Woosnam clenching his fist and roaring with delight.

The American crowd, who had been vociferous in their support of home favourite Watson, stood to salute their new champion.

Woosnam gathers his thoughts and turns his focus back to the 2016 Masters.

Asked if the famous red chequered trousers might make another appearance, he laughs and says: "I don't think so. I think those days are gone for me."