Muirfield lures Faldo back

Nick Faldo (AFP)
Nick Faldo (AFP)

Gullane - Fond memories of two Open wins at Muirfield have tempted Nick Faldo temporarily out of retirement this week, but he rules out producing another revival charge in the manner of Tom Watson or Greg Norman.

The Englishman, now will turn 56 on Thursday, won two of his three British Open crowns at the famed East Lothian links - in 1987 and 1992 - adding a third title at St Andrews in 1990.

But he effectively retired in 2007, turning to television work and promoting his Faldo Series foundation helping out young golfers worldwide.

He did play in the 2009 Open at Royal Birkdale and at St Andrews the following year, but failed to make the cut on either occasion and has not teed off in a major since then.

Muirfield, hosting the Open for the first time since 2002, was just too tempting a prospect for him to ignore, however.

"I think that's the number one reason why I'm here," he said after playing nine holes of practice on Monday morning.

"As you know, I played St. Andrews three years ago and I really thought that was about it, didn't enjoy that. I haven't played anything competitive at all.

"I've got a very special place here, the 18th green at Muirfield. I ended up thinking about that and that won in my heart and my mind. So that maybe sewed some seeds."

"And about two months ago I was at my gym at home and I thought at the time, you're just strong enough to have a go.

"It might be the last chance I get to walk with fellow Open champions. 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."

Since then, Faldo has put in some tough physio work, talked to Justin Rose's sports psychologist and tried to get some of his old game back.

"The bottom line, I hope that for the end of the week I'm inspired, like all of us, that I want to play again and have another go here. I think that's really what's in mind."

Faldo was quick, however, to rule out any suggestion that he could actually put himself in contention to win again along the lines of Watson and Norman.

In 2009 at Turnberry, American legend Watson came within an eight-foot putt of pulling off what would have been one of the most remarkable triumphs in recent sporting history at the age of 59.

Norman had victory in his grasp a year earlier at Royal Birkdale only for the 53-year-old to be denied by a superb final back nine from Padraig Harrington.

For Faldo the goal is simply to play well and give himself a chance of making the cut on Friday as he plays in a golden oldies grouping including himself, Watson and Freddie Couples.

"I'm trying to bust my buns and get to know this golf course because it's like a main road out there, it's hard and fast," he said.

"I'm delighted with my draw - I've got Tom and Freddie. If I'm feeling intense, I'll go and talk to Tom. If I want to feel relaxed, I'll talk to Freddie. That's a great threesome.

"But that would be quite an achievement if I could hover close to making the cut, I would have thought."

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