Nick Faldo says his trip down memory lane at Muirfield during his practice rounds for The Senior Open Championship, presented by Aberdeen Asset Management, and returning to the links where he won two of his three Open titles, has acted as a huge added incentive ahead of his Senior debut.
Faldo, who turned 50 on July 18, has been telling his son and caddie, Matthew, of the shots he hit en route to claiming The Open in 1987 and 1992 at the East Lothian links.
He said: “It’s been nice to reminisce and take Matthew through some of my shots – my five iron from there, getting out of that bunker, my three iron on 18 in ’92 – and it does spur you on an extra bit.”
Defending champion Loren Roberts, of the United States, believes Faldo’s record at Muirfield will stand the six times Major winner in good stead – and also make him a contender for the title, despite his significant lack of competitive golf owing to his new golf commentary career in America.
On hearing the news, a surprised Faldo, whose two rounds in The Open Championship at Carnoustie represented his first tournament golf in eight months, said: “Really? I think they are memories but you’ve still got to hit the golf ball. Experience is only good when you can land the ball and do what you intend to do with it.
“We shall see how it is. I’ve been a busy bee with my new career, obviously, with TV, my design business across Europe and America, which I’m very happy with. So this will be my longest season – two weeks of golf in the year!
“I really don’t know how it’s going to go. I’m just going to go out there and do the best I can. I think that’s as much as I can accomplish at the moment. I’m rusty.”
Yet when talking about his golf game, Faldo revealed his legendary work ethic is still in place, and that his coach Keith Wood has been lending his assistance.
“I’ve worked hard on trying to get a couple of swings that will work, one full swing and one half swing for little knock down shots in the wind and grinding on the putting,” he said.
“I’ve just got to work hard on that. The alignment is quite difficult at the moment. I think when you’ve not faced so many putts, you’re not 100 per cent sure where you’re going, so I just have to keep working on that every day.”
He then joked: “I had 18 pars to win in 1987 – and 72 pars would be very good the way I am putting! I don’t know what the winning score will be – I was thinking about it earlier. I mean, this is a tough golf course, and we don’t know whether they will go for Open Championship pins or just give us a pace or two. And if the weather’s going to be different to what we’ve had, it’ll be even tougher.”
Faldo is in good company when he tees off at 9.30am on Thursday, having been paired with former Open winners Tom Watson (1980 at Muirfield) and Mark O’Meara (1998 at Royal Birkdale).
The Englishman is 2-1 up over Watson with Opens won at Muirfield, and Faldo said he was keen to preserve that advantage, with Watson equally keen to level.
“It’s a great draw – we’ve got plenty to talk about. As I said though, the most important thing is I’m going to go and play Muirfield first and then worry about looking what everybody else is doing later.”