July 15 2013
Nick Faldo counts three Open Championships among his six major titles (Carr/Getty Images)
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
EAST LOTHIAN, Scotland -- In the past 24 months, Nick Faldo, the six-time major champion who was once one of the game's most feared competitors, has played a mere 35 rounds of golf.
His job as an analyst on CBS and the Golf Channel keeps him extremely busy. So does the Faldo Series, a project dear to his heart that annually reaches some 7,000 aspiring young golfers under the age of 21 in 28 countries.
"As you can tell, I'm enjoying life," said a relaxed Faldo, who turns 56 on Thursday.
So what is the World Golf Hall of Famer doing teeing it up in the granddaddy of all majors, the Open Championship, this week at Muirfield? Particularly after the proud Brit shot a disappointing 81 in the second round at St. Andrews in 2010 and ended up missing the cut in what he thought was to be his swan song.
Maybe it's the memories -- Faldo won his first major championship on these magnificent links and his third Open Championship, as well. The affection he feels for the course that overlooks the Firth of Fourth is evident every time he talks about Muirfield.
So much so that a commercial he filmed for a Scotch whiskey distillery earlier this year gave him pause as he discussed how he would create his favorite golf course.
"I started off I want Pebble Beach coastline, and the pines of Augusta and the links and atmosphere of St. Andrews," Faldo said. "And then thought of the memorability. And I thought wow, I've got a very special place here, the 18th green at Muirfield. I ended up thinking about it, and that won in my heart and my mind.
"So that maybe sewed some seeds."
Two months ago, Faldo, always one of the most fit players of his generation, was in his gym and his mind wandered again. Even with the bum shoulder he had been rehabbing, why couldn't he tee it up at Muirfield?
"It might be the last chance I get to walk with fellow Open champions," Faldo remembers thinking. "And so I kind of said, okay, I'm going to go for it. And then the process has been really fun. I've actually enjoyed it."
Faldo says he hopes to be "inspired" by the end of the week. He's delighted with his draw -- Faldo is playing with Tom Watson and Fred Couples -- so "if I'm feeling intense, I'll go and talk to Tom. If I want to feel relaxed, I'll talk to Freddie."
And as for his goals?
Faldo says if he could "hover somewhere close to making the cut" it would be quite an accomplishment. He's not anticipating making a run at the Claret Jug like the one Watson, then 59, made in 2009 at Turnberry -- which Faldo said could have been the "greatest sporting achievement of all time.
That said, the putt Watson missed on the 72nd hole that would have given him his sixth Open title, would have "scarred" Faldo.
"So I'm going to avoid having to putt to win," the Brit said with a smile. "I'm either going to win by six or be stuck in the hay somewhere."