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Golf Australia Express : OTG Express 154 - The Open preview
Faldo and the Open Championship are indelibly linked – his birthday falls near it (he’ll turn 58 on Saturday) – and on top of his three victories he owns 13 top-10 finishes. His most recent made cut came at the Old Course in 2005. This Open was expected to be his last but in typical Faldo fashion he instead intends to save his swansong for 2017 for personally significant milestones. As a past champion, Faldo remains eligible to complete until he turns 60 and will start at Royal Troon next year and Royal Birkdale in 2017. The 1973 championship at Troon was the first Open he attended as a 16-year-old and Birkdale three years later was his first start as a competitor. More respected than admired, some of Faldo’s tales of iciness and possessing a distant nature are legendary. “He wasn’t the most popular guy with all the players, that’s for sure,” Leadbetter once told the Irish Examiner. “He didn’t go out to win friends and influence people. Very seldom does he call people by name. He was very difficult to get close to. But I don’t think it hurt his performance. You don’t have to be ‘Mr Popular’ to win golf tournaments.” In April, this writer walked with Faldo and his son Matthew for a few holes as they played Augusta as a twosome on the Sunday before the Masters, as past winners are entitled to do even if not competing. The elder Faldo displayed every ounce of the same focus and determination that made him so tough to beat in his prime, even in a round that counted for nothing but pride. A year ago I had the pleasure of touring Muirfield, the scene of Faldo’s 1987 and 1992 Open victories. Inside the men’s locker room there is a tradition of Open champions signing the inside of the wooden locker doors for the member who’d vacated their space for the week. I was shown Tom Watson’s genuine note from 1980 and Ernie Els’ kind message from 2002. A third locker door was swung open for me to view, this one pristine and without so much as a scribble in sight. “Guess who used this locker?” my host asked. I pondered for a moment before shaking my head. “Faldo, 1987.” OTG "HE WASN’T THE MOST POPULAR GUY WITH ALL THE PLAYERS, THAT’S FOR SURE."
OTG Express 153
OTG Express 155 - The Open wrap