Somewhere in the Past Nasty Nick Forgotten

By George WhiteNovember 30, 2004, 5:00 pm
He once was Nasty Nick, as feared an opponent as there was on the planet. That man makes Nick Faldo smile now. Maybe he should resume the nasty stuff. But, you know, hes got a life to live. And that life doesnt include being nasty anymore.
Much of his old reputation was deserved, he admits ' he really was a horses patooty to most people. But maybe there was a little bit of a reason, too. Maybe he wasnt really as nasty as he seemed at times.

Definitely people got the wrong impression of me, Faldo said. But fine, Im comfortable with me. Were got to move on now.
He won six majors in his glory years, stretching from his first British Open victory in 1987 to his last Masters triumph when he overcame a huge Greg Norman lead in 1996.
Yeah, somehow I lost my game, concedes Nick. Somehow the emotion of the divorce - it seemed like I was always worn out. I never quite played the same from that year on.
Ah, Faldos personal life - it always has been grist for the British tabloids. Hes been divorced twice and had a girlfriend who had been a college coed in Arizona. All provided great fodder for the tabs. He moved to the U.S., at least partially to escape what he considered an undue scrutiny by the British press, and lived in Orlando for a period of time. In 2001 he married a third time, and he and Valerie live in a British country home in the suburbs of London. Nothing salacious about their life now.
Unfortunately all those tedious times in big tournaments took their toll. He won once in 97 ' at the Nissan ' and then slowly began to fade. He has another child ' little Emma was born in 2003 ' to join the three children from previous marriages. Today, his interests are far-ranging, and playing golf is only one of them.
He says he always had a sense of humor, but not many people were allowed to see it. For years, he said, I kept my head down and just went about my playing.
But if you could see me in the bathroom, I could be hilarious ' well, I think its funny.
But much more prevalent is the picture of a Faldo lost in stony silence, standing quietly as his opponent hits his shot. And that, admittedly, is the way he preferred it. Silence, you know, can be very intimidating. That picture is just what he intended.
Well, in some ways I know its true ' sometimes when things get tight, you dont want to show all your colors, Faldo said. You really dont. so you dont to show all your cards.
So he went about his business with his head down and his cards close to the vest. And he did it with a zeal that carried him all the way to No. 1 in the world.
Youve got to play all 72 holes, he described a golf tournament.
You know, the line I told myself was, This is history. The first hole is history. So it goes down. So you just make sure you pay full attention to hole 1 and then you forget it. Dont waste a shot on hole 1. Make sure every shot is of equal importance.
Nick would just as soon you dont mention the dour times, the times when tournament golf was the be-all and end-all of his existence. Looking at him now, quick with a laugh, dry humor apparent all around, he is anxious to project the new Faldo. Next year he will do the TV bit at 12 tournaments. And if the television gig helps the new Nick along ' well, so much the better.
My No. 1 goal is I want to enjoy it, he said of the television career. Im finding it quite fascinating. You can really see what the good players are doing well and thats why theyre playing well.
Its quite educational for me as well. Im trying to be informative, Im just trying to be me. And if I get a chance to be informative, I do. If something funny happens ' Im just trying to go with the flow. Just be me.
Actually, hes struck by the difference his job is now compared with the old job of Nick Faldo ' head down and plowing ruthlessly ahead, trying to win another major.
When I played golf, he said, I wanted to be seen and not heard.
Now I have the opportunity to be heard and not seen.
Nick chuckled, thinking what a weird world this is sometimes. But then he quickly snapped back to reality. Reality is that the British Open will be played at St. Andrews next year. Reality is that he won a British Open at St. Andrews once and reality is that he would love to win there one more time.
Thats my No. 1 goal next year, to give myself a decent shot at St. Andrews, he said. I definitely feel like I can do something there. You need a bit of length and a lot of strategy and great putting. I know exactly what to do. I feel that given a chance to prepare, I can shoot some decent scores.
Does that mean that he will revert to Nasty Nick, that curmudgeon from the days of winning majors?
Faldo laughed heartily.
Yeah, Ill turn into a mean bastard again, he said. Yeah, thats what I need. Turn on the mean bastard when I play.
Then Ill be Mr. Charm again for the TV.
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Fleetwood flawless en route to Abu Dhabi lead

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 2:06 pm

New year, same results for Tommy Fleetwood.

The reigning Race to Dubai champ picked up where he left off in the opening round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, carding a bogey-free 66 during which the Englishman found all 18 greens in regulation. At 6 under, he shares the lead with Japan's Hideto Tanihara and sits one shot clear of five other players.

"Very stress-free. Played really well from start to finish," Fleetwood said. "Felt like I did what you need to do around this golf course, which is drive it well, hit your irons solid. You can't really be too greedy a lot of the time, and then sort of my pace putting was really good. So basically just did what you need to do to get a good score around this golf course, and I got one."

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Fleetwood shined in a marquee grouping that included world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, as he birdied three holes on each nine. This is his first worldwide start since a T-3 finish at the Hero World Challenge.

It was at this event a year ago that Fleetwood sparked a career campaign, edging Johnson and Pablo Larrazabal for the win. He added another win at the French Open in the summer to go along with a pair of runner-up results and a T-4 finish at the U.S. Open, all of which helped him capture the European Tour's season-long title.

Fleetwood's sudden success in Abu Dhabi serves as a microcosm for his career resurgence. Prior to last year's victory, he had missed the cut in four of his five other trips to this event.

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Sergio starts season with 66 in Singapore

By Associated PressJanuary 18, 2018, 12:56 pm

SINGAPORE – Sergio Garcia opened his season with a 5-under 66 and a share of the clubhouse lead on Thursday in the first round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open.

Playing his first tournament of the year, the Masters champion rebounded after making an early bogey to collect four birdies and an eagle at the Sentosa Golf Club.

He was later joined by American qualifier Kurt Kitayama in the clubhouse lead. Still on the course, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit was at 6 under through 16 holes when play was suspended for the day because of the threat of lightning.

Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, was at 5 under through 16 holes when he also had to stop his round because of the weather.

Of the players who did finish their opening rounds, only three were within two strokes of Garcia and Kitayama. One of them was Casey O'Toole, who aced the par-3 second with a 7-iron.

The 38-year-old Garcia dropped his only shot of the day on the par-4 15th, his sixth hole after teeing off on the back nine, when he missed the fairway and was unable to make par. But he made amends when he birdied the par-3 17th and then eagled the par-5 18th to go out in 33.

''I was 1 over after (the) seventh but it didn't feel like I was playing badly,'' said Garcia, who made birdies on each of the two par 5s and one of the par 3s on the second nine. ''But then I hit two greats in a row for holes 17 and 18. I got a birdie-eagle there, so that settled me a little bit and I could play solid in the back nine and it was a great round.''

Garcia made the shortlist for the Laureus Sports Awards in the Breakthrough of the Year category after claiming his first major at Augusta National last year and is hoping for more success this season.

He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his Masters win because he opted to start his 2017 campaign in the stifling humidity of Southeast Asia to prepare himself for the bigger tournaments ahead.

Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

Kitayama only secured his place in the $1 million event on Monday by finishing at the top of the qualifying competition, but he made a strong start with birdies on three of his first five holes. The 25-year-old Thai was 6 under through 13 holes but spoiled his otherwise flawless round with a bogey on his last.

''I started with a birdie and I just let it roll from there. I had some good tee shots, which I think, is the biggest thing for this course,'' Kitayama said. ''I'm a little tired, but I'm hanging in there. Whenever I have time off, I'll try not to think too much about golf.''

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13-year-old beats DJ in closest-to-the-pin contest

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:26 pm

Dustin Johnson didn’t just get beat by Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy on Day 1 of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Even a 13-year-old got the best of the world No. 1.

Oscar Murphy teed off on the 177-yard 15th hole as part of the tournament’s Beat the Pro challenge during the opening round. The Northern Irishman, one of the HSBC’s Future Falcons, carved a 3-wood toward a back-right pin, about 25 feet away, closer than both Johnson and Fleetwood.

“An unbelievable shot,” Fleetwood said afterward, “and me and Rory both said, ‘We don’t have that in our locker.’”

Johnson still made par on the hole, but he mixed four birdies with four bogeys Thursday for an even-par 72 that left him six shots back of Fleetwood and Hideto Tanihara after the opening round.

Johnson, who tied for second here a year ago, is coming off a dominant performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where he won by eight shots to strengthen his lead atop the world rankings. 

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McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:10 pm

It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.

Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson, and Hideto Tanihara.

Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

“I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”

Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.

“Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.

This was his first competitive round in more than three months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014.