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July 14, 2010

Nick Faldo


MALCOLM BOOTH: We're joined by Sir Nick Faldo. Thank you so much for coming in on such short notice. A bit of a sad state of affairs. The weather has managed scupper our Open Champions challenge, which would have been a great occasion. But obviously here we are 20 years on from a special victory for you in St. Andrews, and maybe just take us through your thoughts on the place and what St. Andrews --
NICK FALDO: Remember the bogeys from 20 years ago? (Laughter).
Yeah, it's a shame. A shame we couldn't get the Champions' Challenge because that was great fun when we did it five years ago and I played with Sam Snead, so that was special. So yeah, I'm here reminiscing, which is rather nice. Matthew, my boy, now 21, is on the bag. Mom and dad are here. Girls are on their way, Natalie and Georgia and Emma are on their way through the week. So that's really my goal this week is just to enjoy 20 years ago in a way, because obviously as you know, I've only played -- I've played two competitive rounds a couple of weeks ago at the German BMW, so that's about it. So venturing out on the golf course is a little scary right now. But really, it's really just the fact it's 20 years on, so that's pretty special for me.

Q. Can you just tell us about the scene in the locker room with the old champions, whether they're saying, I can't wait to get out there or whether they were saying --
NICK FALDO: I was only with Ian Baker-Finch, so we're the young breed, I guess. No, it was pretty brutal for a while. They've been talking about it for a good hour now. I did make a suggestion maybe we just do 1 and 18, which then prompted me to think, well, if there was only one hole you could play, what would you choose? And if there was only two holes you could ever play, that would be a good two holes, wouldn't it? 1 and 18. If there was only ever three holes you could play, you'd go to Amen Corner, I guess, and we were stuck after that.
No, it's a shame, simple as that. I haven't bumped into any of the real old boys, so I'm sure it would have been brutal. If we had gone out -- I was on the range this morning, a couple hours ago, and it's just brutal out there. There would have been no -- it wouldn't have been entertaining for anybody, so it's a shame.

Q. It's been such a good run of English results in America and around the world this year. Do you think it's high time one of them followed in your footsteps this week, any particular English guy?
NICK FALDO: Well, yes, probably. I would have thought it's a probable now. English, British golf is -- whatever, you know the stats, sorry, 8 out of 15 or up there, World Rankings, and doing all the right stuff and starting to get experience from the past majors. So it's very possible. Obviously it's going to be a tough test if the weather is -- could be a little bit of luck of the draw of what you get out of the first couple of days, but yeah, bottom line is the guys are -- it wouldn't surprise me. Obviously Rosey might be a very obvious first choice. He's played really well the last month, seems to have found something in the game, in his mind and everything. Obviously Lee is very solid, very solid tee to green, which St. Andrews is really all about, tee to green. Avoid the bunkers, hit the greens, keep it within -- keeping it flag high, that was the key.
I once said that was the way to play St. Andrews. If you could always be pin high, very difficult times because you know it wanders off here, but if you're always kind of pin high then obviously you've hit the right shot and you've judged the right amount of bounce. So that's what St. Andrews is all about.

Q. Question about the left side of the pond: You played with Phil in a practise round Monday, Tuesday?
NICK FALDO: Yeah, we played yesterday, yeah.

Q. I understand he picked your brain a good bit and he obviously hasn't had much luck over here and you obviously did. What all was the discussion? Sounds like he's going to hit a lot of drivers which is an interesting attack on this golf course to bomb into submission.
NICK FALDO: Well, yes and no. Everybody knows the severity of the bunkers here, and you just have to respect them. When I won, I hit it in one, and that was the 4th greenside bunker on the last day, and I know Tiger didn't hit in any. So it's a real priority. You have to plot your way away from those. Yeah, Phil likes to play aggressive, swing aggressive, and that's the way his driver is set up. It's interesting with equipment. The driver is built to go flat out rather than soft shots. So that's interesting.
He brings American stance to the links, and if the weather is good, you can do that, but if you've got to knuckle down and play all sorts of funky shots -- but he's keen. He likes to prepare. I think he finds St. Andrews tough to prepare on, because there could be 50 hole locations out there on the side of those greens. Obviously there's not, but you can't spend two hours on each green working on a certain area and then they put the flag 40 yards in a different direction. That's why he feels that maybe he -- he likes to really prepare. So maybe he doesn't ever feel he's fully prepared for this one.

Q. Am I right in thinking you didn't three-putt?
NICK FALDO: Yeah, I didn't three-putt. Funny seeing my stats 20 years later. I made 20 birdies, one eagle, and my only kind of intentional bogeys, I bogeyed the 4th, and then the only intentional bogeys were the way I used to play 17, either up towards 18 tee, just to avoid the...

Q. I think you have the longest putt at Augusta, but can you think of the longest putt you had here?

Q. Where was it?
NICK FALDO: Well, it was when we played the PGA, '79, and John Bland paced it. I holed it across the 4th and I think it was 40 yards, but I can't remember a long putt at the Open. I can't remember missing inside 20 feet, which is a nice feeling, isn't it, at the 1990 Open. That's a really good feeling.

Q. Do you see any significance to the fact that nobody has won their first Open here since Tony Lema in '64?
NICK FALDO: Nobody has ever won their first Open here?

Q. I beg your pardon, first major, since Lema.
NICK FALDO: I didn't know that stat.

Q. Is it the case that you need something more?
NICK FALDO: Yeah, you've done more research than me on that one, I don't know. I'm more thinking of the stat rather than the comment. Nobody has ever won their first major at St. Andrews, here at St. Andrews?

Q. Since 1964.
NICK FALDO: Since '64. That proves it's difficult, something, finishing off here.

Q. Tiger Woods has rolled into town with quite serious criticism from some of the elder statesmen of the game, in particular Tom Watson. Yesterday in his press conference he seemed quite unrepentant and he's also had kind of fractious relations with the fans. What do you think Tiger Woods needs to do to win over the hearts and minds of people now?
NICK FALDO: Give. You give to them, they will give back. Simple as that.

Q. Could you just elaborate on that, what you mean by that?
NICK FALDO: If you're giving in any way, with smiles, comments, waves, good thoughts, I'm sure it will all come back.

Q. Are you surprised he hasn't started doing that himself, hasn't sort of taken that on board?
NICK FALDO: You know, Tiger is doing his own thing. I mean, he always has. Tiger has been Tiger for the 15 years he's been out here. He believes he's doing the right thing, so it's his choice how he wants to do it.

Q. You mentioned about playing in the BMW International in Munich. Those two rounds were in the company of Steven Gallagher, and he shot 63, 64. Were you impressed by him that day? And do you think he could do well this week?
NICK FALDO: I was really impressed with whatever woods he was hitting into the -- 5s, 3-woods, 4-woods, 5-woods, whatever it was. But he hit out of 6, he hit on the green, two eagles out of that and the others were all birdies. So that was impressive, and I saw he finished 4th last week. So he's a strong player, obviously knows St. Andrews well, and he commented he had already been playing here a couple weeks ago even prior to BMW. Yeah, you've got to believe that he would fancy his chances.

Q. You mentioned Justin, when he stands on the tee with Tiger tomorrow, given his form of late and Tiger's struggles, who do you think will have more of an intimidation factor? Who will be weary of whom?
NICK FALDO: They'll be worrying about their own game. That's what golfers are good at doing. As I used to say, put your blinkers on and keep going. That's all you can do in this game, especially on the 1st tee. Especially weather-wise you're more worried about those first half a dozen holes and get the rhythm going for the Open.

Q. But you've known Justin a long time, do you think he's grown up now sufficiently to ignore all --
NICK FALDO: Well, I think from the way he's handled these last two victories have been really impressive. He played really -- obviously shot a great round at Muirfield Village and then maybe more importantly, the fact you're leading and hang on. Scared himself for a while maybe a little bit, but then played really well on an extremely difficult golf course, a couple of pressure-packed holes. The fact he played like that only one week before this, he's got to be feeling pretty darned good.

Q. Despite the strength and depth of European golf, is Tiger still the man to beat here given that he's won here twice?
NICK FALDO: Well, the fact he can make things happen. Look, he's had the Masters and the U.S. Open. He loves it here, the way the golf course plays. I mean, it's -- in theory, you don't think you're going to miss a green here because of the size of them, unless it becomes brutal. But you know, he has the determination to make things happen, so we shall see.

Q. Is there any reason why recent events off the course should have diminished his powers on the course in your view?
NICK FALDO: The only thing I would say, obviously when you go to practise, you need 100 per cent time and commitment and quality of mind and that sort of thing. That obviously I'm sure has changed.

Q. As you get on in your career, what did you find more difficult, mentally staying focused and being competitive or physical challenges? As an older player gets older --
NICK FALDO: Both. It hits you fast, both of those. I guess the physical thing, golf shots start to change, you don't quite hit it the same, and then obviously that probably eats at your confidence that way. That was my circle because I was so consistent that I could trust it, and then all of a sudden you start seeing a few going different directions and thinking, hey, I went through the same process -- that used to wind me up, that I would do the same things and things were going like that. I suppose that's what slowly did me in.

Q. There's obviously a difference between winning regular events and majors. Can you just talk about the mental toughness required and whatever else is required for a home golfer to win a home Open?
NICK FALDO: Yeah, I believe it -- I mean, I've talked to a couple of guys, and I always used to say a Sunday at a major tournament trying to win is ten-fold trying to win a regular tournament. Trevor Immelman came up to me and said the same thing, same as -- I was just talking to Graeme, as well. He says, wow, it's different Sunday afternoon of a major. I'm trying to think of somebody else. That's kind of how I would measure it. It's our real barometer. If you can survive a Sunday afternoon of a major, then you find out all about your game and all about your mind. That's what makes it -- if you enjoy throwing yourself in the deep end, that's what makes it so great. You've got to really love it. I know Jack Nicklaus used to say that, you get that nice twist in your stomach but you've got to be able to say, wow, this is what I practise for, this is a great feeling, in a sarcastic sort of way.

Q. The past couple of years you had just some great story lines for past Open Champions, Greg Norman in 2008 and Tom Watson last year. What did you feel when you saw those scenes? And what realistically do you think you can achieve in 2010?
NICK FALDO: Me? I was very impressed with the guys. Obviously Greg was very impressive because he plays a minimal amount of golf, and then we all saw Tom. To me, Tom was going to be one of those shows, was this the greatest sporting achievement. And then it ends up -- in my opinion, this game delivered a scarring to him to get that close, almost get your hands on it was hard, unbelievably hard. No, but for me, crimson, I've played -- I sit on this thing for six hours a day now, and it feels like it's still stuck at the back of my shirt when I'm trying to play golf.
My number one goal is the fact that, as I said, I've got Matthew on the bag and I've got to just make sure I have a good time out there. I guess that's the number one goal.

Q. Back to our young players, when Graeme McDowell won in the U.S. Open, he said of Rory that he felt his approach is a little too gung ho for a major such as a U.S. Open. Do you think a gung-ho approach would suit Rory around this course?
NICK FALDO: No, it probably will, probably will. You can play aggressive here. You have to be really respectful of the bunkering, obviously, but you can play pretty aggressive. Yeah, I think these guys bombing it down a few of the par-5s -- you know, when we played -- last time we were here when it was dry, even I hit it on -- you've got the par-5s and four of the par-4s, we were driving it on 9 and 10 and 12 and 18, and even I managed to do that last time, I think, or at some stage in the week. I don't think that's going to happen this year quite the same.
But being aggressive with the driver would be great, if you can pull that off.

Q. And as a very young player do you think that he's got the equipment at this stage of his career to challenge?
NICK FALDO: I think definitely to challenge. Finishing it off, I think if he can get that -- the way he finished off at Quail Hollow was really impressive, to take the lead after 9, and I thought, well, that was all right, let's see what he does on the back nine, so he shoots 32 on the back nine. That was really impressive. So he knows if he gets his nose in front, he can do it.

Q. 1996, last time an English golfer won a major, '92, last time an English golfer won an Open, both you. Are you disappointed? Are you frustrated that no one has stepped up to the plate between then and now? And what needs to happen over the next four days for one of those young guns to actually make the big step?
NICK FALDO: I wouldn't say it's a disappointment. Everybody gives their 100 per cent to make it happen. You know, who knows if it will this week. I think the guys are giving 100 per cent, simple as that, and they're gaining experience, which we always talk about, and they've had way more of that. I think there was a while where there wasn't that, but you look at the last five years of the majors and the English and the British players have started to get more and more experience. For me that was what spurred me on. I was actually in the hunt here in '78 for a while and obviously in '83 I blew it well and truly and I learnt from that, and worked on my swing and got myself back into it. I think everybody is learning and everybody is really keen. I think something is going to happen this week.

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