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March 9, 2005

Nick Faldo


JOHN BUSH: Nick, thanks for coming by and spending a few minutes with us here on an a sponsor's exemption this week from Honda. If we could get you to comment on the week generally and also on receiving the sponsor's pick.

NICK FALDO: Well, obviously very pleased to get an invite to play, and I'm now starting my little golfing schedule. I play nine out of the next 13 weeks, so that's going to be my mini-season. Then June I'm back working ABC, so got plenty going on, yeah.

JOHN BUSH: Talk a little about your game coming into this week. I know you've been spending a lot of time in the booth.

NICK FALDO: Well, I've been sitting on my backside between five and eight hours a day. That was a heavy schedule I had. I had planned to practice, but obviously with the rainouts that we had at L.A. and La Costa, I ended up doing a lot more work than I anticipated. So anxious to squeeze in a couple of days practice those last few days, but I'm sure I'm going to be pretty rusty this week.

JOHN BUSH: Comment on the TV gig, how is that going for you? Enjoying yourself?

NICK FALDO: Yeah, very well. Obviously we are getting very good feedback, so, enjoying it. That's the most important thing. I think that was my No. 1 goal. It's a different world to be sitting there in a chair analyzing, but we're enjoying it. We're all getting on well. We've got a very good team.

Q. Are you surprised, you and Paul haven't talked for years and years, and now you're sort of brothers-in-arm?

NICK FALDO: Brothers-in-arm, that's a good one. Yeah, I think that's the important thing is if we're enjoying ourselves, then that will come across. I think if we can spot interesting things, we're learning to be quick, quick on your backsides, basically. Just got to think quick and say it, if it's interesting, say it quick. Short and quick.

Q. You're kidding around, joking around --

NICK FALDO: Well, that's the important thing, I think that's what they want. They want some good banter going backwards and forwards. Even if we have a subject we disagree on, that's what they want, as well. They want us to share our opinions and views. So that's what we're trying to do.

Q. Phil and Tiger coming down the wire, what did you think of that whole scene on Sunday? I don't know how much of it you saw what did you think about that prospect and would you be really eager --

NICK FALDO: It will happen, it will happen again.

Q. -- to be announcing that?

NICK FALDO: Sure. If we've got exciting golf to talk about, as well, then it's even better. It's hard work when the golf goes dull for an hour, then we've got to step it up.

But the golf has been great. It's been pretty exciting stuff,.

Q. Did you watch any of Sunday?

NICK FALDO: I only watched a few holes. Just watched Tiger launch is onto 12.

Q. You never went for that green?

NICK FALDO: I was pleased to get it in three, yeah.

Q. Have you and Paul talked about the possibility of being opposing captains?

NICK FALDO: Not really, no. A long way off. That's a long way off, that one.

Q. How important is it for you to know that many years out?

NICK FALDO: Well, obviously it's great for me to have a title next to my name again. I've always enjoyed that, you know. (Laughing). So I'm RCC21, that's my name, you get it? Ryder Cup Captain, I'm the 21st -- thought for the Ryder Cup, thought I might have to explain things, okay. (Laughter.)

Q. In the past some golf announcers have been accused of being too apologetic and soft, and Johnny Miller is accused of being too harsh, how do you see the role?

NICK FALDO: Me, I just try to come with the facts. I think that's the most important thing. I mean, if I'm factual rather than personal, so that's my goal and try to be informative. Just try to pick everything -- everything will happen fast. You don't plan anything. If it's a funny moment, you've got to respond. If there's a moment that needs analyzing, swing or whatever, bang, you're into that. Then it's just basic commentary or whatever you're into. So you have to be pretty -- I mean, I think the looser, more relaxed we get, the better we're going to get, simple as that.

Q. Do you get a perspective on your own game, playing your own game, from watching?

NICK FALDO: Yeah, I do. When I first got out there, these putting strokes, I can see the guys who are working and holing it and I can see the guys who are missing. I can see it the perfect ones, rocking their shoulders perfectly and another one tweaks it just quarter of an inch, and sorry, then guess what, it misses left edge and you go, it's your shoulder or something. So I can see some very interesting bits. But I'm marveling at the distance the guys are hitting, obviously, this is crazy.

Yeah, I'll look at a few bits, yeah. I think you -- it's good to see at times however good they are, they are still human. There will still be a few bad shots and what-have-you because you always assume every time you hit a bad one, that nobody else is ever hitting a bad one. But when they are good, it's very good right now, isn't it.

Q. Has the game changed too much?

NICK FALDO: Well, yeah, it really has from my era, which was only -- wow, it's 15 years ago, that's all, and it's a totally different style of golf. We all drove the ball with Persimmon drivers, the big hitters were 260. You know, maybe that was probably -- a good carry in those days was 245, 250. The big guys hit it 260. Now Tiger is hitting a little fade out there in cold weather at 310. (Laughter.) Yeah, comes up on ShotLink, 310, we're going, "What?" When he launches one, it's 320 and there's plenty of guys who hit it 280 through the air, 300 through the air. That's the difference.

Q. Is it bad?

NICK FALDO: Is it bad? Well, you just have to join the party. I mean, the bottom line is -- but you know I was taught a certain way. I was taught with rhythm, and then I spent years with Lead working on the opposite to the release. We used to hold it off. I was discussing this with Vijay, I said, well I worked so much on iron shots, it was detrimental to my driver, I never had that release. You know, and so that's tough now, to get it now it's impossible. Obviously it's totally ingrained in my swing tempo. To think I'll step up and get another ten miles an hour out of it, it's impossible. So I'm stuck with what I've got.

Q. Jack was saying yesterday in his press conference when he got off the subject of equipment, he was talking about -- we don't have one championship golf course now in the United States unless they do something like what they did at Shinnecock last year. Do you agree with that, and how do you think Augusta is standing up to the challenge?

NICK FALDO: Well, firm greens will always -- if they can guarantee firm greens, but you can't. If it suddenly rains Wednesday night, all of your best laid plans go out the door. These guys, they are shooting darts. The degree of accuracy is incredible with every club. It's the only protection is firming up the greens. Simple as that. Obviously they went too far at Shinnecock slightly. (Laughter.) Just missed that by a hair.

Q. What do you view yourself now, are you a golfer still or are you a golf announcer? How do you look at yourself?

NICK FALDO: How do I look at myself, a good question. I don't know. I mean, I would think more I feel that like I've had my career, obviously and I'm now in transition before 50 where I will make a decision what I want to do at 50. I'm 48 in July.

So really I want to have -- to be honest, time enjoying myself on the golf course, doing all of these things I'm doing, ABC, design work and home life. I mean really, I'd just like to enjoy that run for a couple of years and so I don't know where that puts me. I don't know what my official title is to be honest.

Q. Paul was talking about he'd go years and said less to you than he did the first time you guys were on the show, and other guys say you were not one to talk a whole lot. How much effort, how much did you have to change?

NICK FALDO: No effort. This is me. The best way to describe it, I played my cards close to my chest. I didn't want the guys to know about me. You know, I believe that was right.

I use the example of our England goalkeeper, David Seaman, and they go to England training camp and because they obviously are taught, they take penalties. And because the guy says, well, where do you -- well, he says, I always hit it top right. So guess what, so when he's in goal for Arsenal and this guy steps up, he knew exactly where to go. So that's the example I can give you. For me, I believe, I played my cards close to my chest. I played golf. I wasn't there for afternoon tea talk. So I got my reputation and what-have-you from that. But this is me in the booth, that is me. I mean, it's hopefully -- you know, hopefully I can prove I am mad.

Q. Your ABC schedule cuts into your European playing time?

NICK FALDO: Well, obviously ABC gets priority. I'm scheduled to do 12 events and I work with ABC and select where we're going and I pick the schedule after that. So, you know, they get priority.

Q. It seems like this is a little uncharted territory that you are a captain in waiting, you've still got to wait for Woosie to step aside, so how do you handle the next two years?

NICK FALDO: Not talk about it. (Laughter.) Exactly. My goal is to not -- well, I will not do any interviews regarding the Ryder Cup until a month after the '06 Ryder Cup. Obviously I may have to make the odd statement here and there obviously as time goes by, but I'm not going to do any interviews at all regarding the Ryder Cup. So my lips are sealed on Ryder Cup. I think that's fair to Woosie. It's his time, it's his office, so let him go and do his bit. Let him go and defend.

Q. How will you go about observing the '06 Ryder Cup, are you going to watch it closer? Are you going to talk to Woosie?

NICK FALDO: No, no, it's his gig. He gets on with it. I presume, only presumption, it seems that I have an official title, I assume I will go to probably the opening ceremony next year. Off the top of my head, that's about all I would know right now. I want them to get on with it. I don't want to be there, I think it would be asking for trouble if I was around.

Q. The way you just described yourself as a player, being somebody that held his cards close to his chest, is that more or less Vijay's approach, and is it one of those things where the way he conducts himself and even his relationship with us is what he considers is something that works best for him?

NICK FALDO: I think a lot of guys do that. A lot of the guys have to be protective, because why do you want to everybody to know everything about you? You are a competitive sportsman.

Q. He has such an interesting background and we would like to hear maybe a little bit more about what it's like to be a club pro in Borneo, and over the years we've got bits and pieces.

NICK FALDO: I don't know. Just ask him.

Q. But Vijay kind of wants to keep it even more distant than maybe you ever were.

NICK FALDO: Well, good luck then. Can't help you. (Laughter.)

Q. Going into Augusta, do you automatically now just think about the obvious half a dozen players, power players or do you still think that it's possible for somebody who doesn't hit the ball a mile to win there?

NICK FALDO: Well, it's still possible. Mike Weir is a great example inspiration to all of us because there is a way of making a score around Augusta. That's something I've resigned myself to say, okay, I'm a three-shotter at par 5s and I've got to find a way of making 4s that way, which may not be such a bad thing. They are making Augusta tougher and tougher all the time. You go for some and the risk/reward where the risk is getting pretty serious now.

So I think you've just got to -- obviously it's a better percentage. These guys, if they are crushing it 320 out there, well, as you see, they are hitting 6-irons into par 5s. Well that's a big difference than the guys back there contemplating hitting a 3-wood or a 5-wood. That's a lot tougher decision.

Q. Are you more at ease with being a part-time golfer? Would you have pulling your hair out ten years ago?

NICK FALDO: Well, I wouldn't have done this. I was always prepared. Now I'm not prepared. It frustrates me but I have to accept that, that where I am, I'm still playing because I enjoy playing but obviously I've got other things going on and I can't commit as much time as I want to. That's why I'm looking forward to this little run for a couple of months where I can actually get down and think golf, play golf and the rest of the business stuff can sit and wait.

Q. Is that an adjustment for you mentally to get over the fact that you're not going to be prepared?

NICK FALDO: Yeah, exactly, it was, I don't like it. It frustrates me. Plus, getting older as well, physically as well, you can't prepare how you wish to. I've got a few aches here and there that have to be worked on, and so yeah, as time goes by it gets tougher.

Q. Would you still take on anybody out there with a long iron? Reason I ask that is '92 when you won at Muirfield, I recall that you said one of the great things, you hit 25 long irons to the greens and they were mostly into par 5s and that just doesn't happen right now; that was the art of the game.

NICK FALDO: Would I take anyone on? No.

Q. If you were in top form?

NICK FALDO: If I was in top form, sure, if I had been belting long irons for a month, maybe, yeah, I'm sure I could find a way. But it's a different style, they hit the ball higher and so much further. I mean, look at last week, 13 at Doral and that's, what, 236 and they are up pushing 4-irons at it. Got to find a way to jiggle a 5-wood now in there or something. So it's different.

Q. Vijay is here this week, No. 1 seems like it could be up for grabs for a while, is there something about his game that's clicked?

NICK FALDO: Well, obviously something clicked with him. He discovered something. Actually, he did, we discussed it. I thought it was quite amazing last year when we were at Atlanta, I walked down the range and Vijay said to me, he said, "What's the secret?" So I told him, just straight up told him, "Well, this is my secret." Now I won't divulge it. I'll hold that one back, but I thought, if I was walking down there even a couple of years before that with a set of clubs, nobody would ask me that.

Q. Why is that so unusual?

NICK FALDO: Because I guess I'm in a different position now.

Q. Are you planning on trying to qualify for the U.S. Open?

NICK FALDO: No, not this time.

Q. What's the difference from last year?

NICK FALDO: What's the difference, well, again, it's preparation. I'd have to do the 36 at Walton Heath and if they set it up like they did last year, I've got no hope. So that's for me.

Q. What about your recollections of the Ryder Cup across the street?

NICK FALDO: Yeah, I walked in the hotel trying to remember that. It was a great Ryder Cup because that was the start of the whole European charge. That was it right then. That was a great week. We lost by a point but Seve came in, and that was a great moment when Seve came in the team room and we were all down and he said he came in and said, "We must celebrate. This is a victory." And I think he was right. We genuinely then knew that we could do it, we could win. So that was a great week.

Q. Will you look back now that you're in the booth there, how do you see your relationship with the media and the media's relationship with you? I realize maybe it was a little more antagonistic in Britain and at the '92 Open in Muirfield where you felt compelled to say something about the British media in particular. I wonder if being in the booth now, have you thought about that the all over the years?

NICK FALDO: Not really. It's very different this side of the pond. And I was in that era of the 80s when, you know, were sportsmen really -- you know, it was myself, Ian Botham, Nigel Mansell, any British sportsman, Daley Thompson, we were -- as I know, the brief to the editors, the day you write something about golf is you're fired. It really was. So that was it. They came from a different angle every time so it was a difficult time. But that's gone. That's long gone that era. This is different, different style of writing now totally.

Q. In the last few years with Tiger and Vijay we've seen such domination in golf and last year you had a glimpse of maybe what is ahead with the rivalries of the top players, can you speak about the importance of rivalries?

NICK FALDO: Yeah, I had the same run. It looks like -- last week was a very good week, wasn't it? You had obviously Tiger and Phil and Vijay over here. You had Ernie winning in Dubai. And then Retief is off, but he's right there as well. So these guys are all on form right now which is pretty impressive. You're going to get a few young guys. You've got at least ten, a dozen guys here who are really are taking the game to another level.

So I enjoyed that, from my era, it was great. I had Greg and Pricey and Fred Couples and Seve. That's what it's all about, every week, it's great to have them all in the field and you just want to go and beat them. That's what it's all about. It's as I am simple as that.

Q. This time of year, how does your mind start thinking differently with Augusta coming up, in what way? What are some of the things that have changed that you approach the game?

NICK FALDO: Well, a big change is I believe I had a chance. That's changed slightly now. The chance is getting a lot slimmer.

I mean, Augusta has seriously changed. We were talking, it's a powers game now. You've got to hit the ball prodigious distances now really to compete. I'm sure somebody will do it. Mike Weir will come along and somebody will play it but the odds are getting slimmer. It seems like everybody is building themselves in that style of golfer to be a power player. It's an essential part of your makeup.

JOHN BUSH: Nick, thanks for coming by. Play well this week.

End of FastScripts.

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