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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