Back-to-Back Masters Winners (and What Happened Going for No. 3)

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The Only Three Back-to-Back Winners of The Masters

Back-to-back Masters winners Nick Faldo and Tiger Woods, pictured together during the 2001 Buick Classic
Nick Faldo (left) and Tiger Woods are two of the three golfers who've won The Masters in consecutive years. Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Winning The Masters in back-to-back years is a rarer feat than making double eagle during the major. Through 2015, there had been four double eagles in Masters history, but only three back-to-back champions.

And that short list of golfers who've won at Augusta National in consecutive years does not include Arnold Palmer. Or Gary Player. Neither Sam Snead nor Ben Hogan managed it.

These are the only three back-to-back winners in Masters history:

  • Jack Nicklaus
  • Nick Faldo
  • Tiger Woods

As you know, the Masters winner is helped into the Green Jacket by the preceding year's champ. So what happens in the Green Jacket ceremony with a repeat winner? When Nicklaus first did it, there was no precedent. He just put the jacket on himself. But the chairman of Augusta National helped Faldo and Woods into their jackets when they won their second in a row.

No golfer has ever won The Masters three years in a row, so we'll also tell you what happened when these three back-to-back champs tried for consecutive win No. 3.

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Jack Nicklaus, 1965-66

Jack Nicklaus during third round of play in the 1966 Masters Golf tournament
Jack Nicklaus during the 1966 Masters, his second consecutive win in that major. Bettman/Getty Images

The Masters was first played in 1934, but it took until 1965-66 before Jack Nicklaus became the tournament's first back-to-back winner.

  • 1965 Masters: Nicklaus set a 72-hole tournament scoring record of 271 and beat runners-up Arnold Palmer and Gary Player by a whopping nine shots. This is the win that prompted Bobby Jones to say that Nicklaus played "a game with which I am not familiar."
  • 1966 Masters: It was much closer this time - Nicklaus needed an 18-hole playoff to claim his second consecutive Masters title. He beat Tommy Jacobs and Gay Brewer in that playoff.
  • What happened in 1967: Nothing good for Nicklaus. He shot 72-79 and missed the cut.

Nicklaus nearly achieved the two-fer earlier. He won in 1963, then tied for second in 1964. But it wasn't that close: Nicklaus finished six behind winner Arnold Palmer in 1964.

In addition to 1963, 1965 and 1966, Nicklaus also won The Masters in 1972, 1975 and 1986.

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Nick Faldo, 1989-90

Nick Faldo of England celebrates his playoff victory over Raymond Floyd during the final round of the 1990 Masters
Nick Faldo celebrates his playoff win over Raymond Floyd (left) in the 1990 Masters. David Cannon/Getty Images

The second golfer to win consecutive Masters titles was Nick Faldo.

  • 1989 Masters: Faldo first earned the Green Jacket with a sudden death playoff win over Scott Hoch. Hoch should have won it, but missed a 2-foot putt.
  • 1990 Masters: Faldo made it back-to-back wins with back-to-back playoffs. This time, Faldo beat Raymond Floyd in the playoff.
  • What happened in 1991: Faldo never scared the leaders, but finished a very respectable 12th.

Faldo won a third Masters crown in 1996.

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Tiger Woods, 2001-02

Tiger Woods wears a red sweater over a red shirt at the 2001 Memorial Tournament
Tiger Woods in 2001. Andy Lyons

Tiger Woods became the third member of the back-to-back Masters champions club as part of his amazing early 2000s performances.

  • 2001 Masters: Woods won by two over David Duval, and this was the capper on the "Tiger Slam" (holding all four major titles simultaneously).
  • 2002 Masters: This time it was a 3-stroke win for Woods, on the strength of a third-round 66 that shot him up the leaderboard.
  • What happened in 2003: Going for the three-peat, Woods started the final round four off the lead. But he shot 75 and tied for 15th.

Woods had previously won The Masters in 1997, and won again in 2005.

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Plus a Few Who Came Close

Arnold Palmer and Gary Player were the main protagonists at the 1961 Masters Tournament
Arnold Palmer (left) and Gary Player in 1961. They took turns denying each other back-to-back wins in The Masters. Bettman/Getty Images

There are multiple other instances in Masters history in which a golfer came close to pulling off wins in consecutive years. Here are those golfers and years:

Finished 2nd Year After Winning

  • Ben Hogan: Won in 1953, second in 1954
  • Doug Ford: Won in 1957, second in 1958
  • Arnold Palmer: Won in 1960, second in 1961
  • Gary Player: Won in 1961, second in 1962
  • Jack Nicklaus: Won in 1963, second in 1964
  • Arnold Palmer: Won in 1964, second in 1965
  • Tom Watson: Won in 1977, second in 1978
  • Jordan Spieth: Won in 2015, second in 2016

Palmer reached the final hole with a 1-shot lead in 1961, but double-bogeyed to drop to second place behind Gary Player.

Palmer got Player back in 1962, though, beating the South African in a playoff to deny Player a second consecutive Masters win.

Finished 3rd Year After Winning

  • Gene Sarazen: Won in 1935, third in 1936
  • Sam Snead: Won in 1949, third in 1950
  • Sam Snead: Won in 1954, third in 1955
  • Cary Middlecoff: Won in 1955, third in 1956
  • Arnold Palmer: Won in 1958, third in 1959
  • Jack Nicklaus: Won in 1972, third in 1973
  • Jack Nicklaus: Won in 1975, third in 1976
  • Tiger Woods: Won in 2005, third in 2006