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No Rest for the Weary

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Editor's Note: This is the first in a series of bimonthly columns from Nick Faldo. Watch for Nick Wednesday May 22nd on Viewer's Forum.
 
So you think this job is glamorous, all the travel and all the perks that go with it and all the great golf. It is. But sometimes it also is exhausting. I went three-quarters of the way around the world in three days just a couple of weeks ago, and it took a little while to recover.
 
I'm not complaining, mind you. Sometimes you do unusual things in the name of business. This time it was my course architect company, Faldo Design.
 
Let me tell you about it. I started my journey in my other home, Orlando, and flew to Toronto Friday. From there it was a 2 1/2-hour trip north to a beautiful site near Lake Rosseau in Muskoka, though on Friday it was actually snowing. The course, temporarily called the Lake Rosseau project, is cut through the forest with these majestic rock outlets, really magnificent. But I have to tell you, I was freezing!
 
Then it was back to Toronto, fly to Chicago, and from Chicago to Beijing, which is 13-plus hours. I got out of the airport at 3 in the afternoon Saturday and I spent an hour or so walking the golf course. Actually that's not a bad thing, you get some daylight and you get some exercise. That evening was a business meeting, no time for sleep yet.
 
I got out the next morning, Sunday, about 8 and walked the course again. It's a great project, only 25 minutes from Tiananmen Square called Hong Hua International golf club. So I went from a golf course cut through the forest, very rural, to one surrounded by high rises and tall buildings in a very urban setting.
 
Then I jumped on a plane out of Beijing to Hong Kong, and from Hong Kong flew on to London. I got home to London Monday morning. It may sound rough, but it really was a good trip.
 
Golf-wise, I had a good Masters, tying for 14th. I played on the Saturday before the tournament started, and the greens were measuring at least 15-plus on the Richter scale, pardon me, on the Stimpmeter. It's really too bad that the rains came throughout the week. If the course had stayed firm all week, it would have demanded a little more strategy.
 
Just like the analysts predicted, though, it was basically a big-hitters' course, at least on the final day. You look at the leaderboard after three rounds, and they were all long hitters who were out front. They definitely had a little advantage.
 
Tiger, of course, was brilliant. I guess the papers are going to write for a long time that he isn't really impressive until it comes time for the majors. Then he just plays like a true champion. The guy is really amazing.
 
His big motivation will be winning the money list each year, and of course winning the majors. He's already in a different league. He is so focused on majors. There is no way anybody could maintain that enthusiasm week after week after week in regular tour events. He just goes and plays the regular tour, and if he happens to win, that's good. The day after the Masters was over, he was already thinking of his playing schedule leading up to the U.S. Open; where he's going to play, what's he going to do, and how he's going to prepare for that. That's how I operated. That's what your measured by, the number of majors you've won. He's won seven, and the truth is, I don't have any idea how many other tournaments he's won. As I said, you are measured by your number of majors, and I do know that number, seven!
 
That story will be written an awfully lot of times through the years, 'He wasn't really sharp until it came time for the majors.' I will guarantee it. But the majors, that's where he shines. That's where he is so great.
 
The mental side, that's his strongest club right now. Mental, physical, technical, he's got all of those. But mentally, he just got into the Masters at the start, he made a big move on Saturday, and on Sunday he beat us all. It was a classic case of everybody watching what Tiger was up to. Some guys may not admit it, but still there was something inside them that was conscious of what Tiger was doing. And they couldn't respond to it.
 
As for my week in Augusta, I was quite pleased. I opened with a 75, but then I had a really good second day and shot 67. It's really unusual - Hal Sutton, who was to be my playing partner, withdrew before the start. I thought to myself, 'What would I do if I had to play by myself during the middle of a tournament?'
 
Well, I thought I was going to find out. Frank Lickliter, who was my other partner, came up to me Friday morning and told me he had to drop out. I said, 'Oh, no!' I thought, 'What do I do now?' I thought it would be sinful to have a marker, it's only happened to me once in my whole career, last year at Loch Lomond.
 
But the more I thought about it, the more I could see the advantages. I can see where it really is better playing on your own. You play totally at your own pace, you hit whenever you're ready, you go round just the way you like it.
 
I did take a marker, however. I was surrounded by three-balls and I took John Harris, a guy who has been an outstanding amateur, a good player, a nice guy. So I came out and shot the 67, birdied the first three holes and just hung in there until the end of the day. It was a great day for me. The whole tournament, actually, went very well.
 
Actually, it was the continuation of what has been a pretty good year. I finished tied for 10th in the Johnnie Walker in Australia, tied for sixth in the Heineken Classic, and third in the Singapore Masters. And now the tie for 14th in the Masters.
 
So I am doing well, I think. I have the opportunity now to concentrate on my golf, and the course design business is coming along really well, also. The next few tournaments are on the European Tour, in Germany for the Deutsche Bank, and the Volvo PGA Championship back here in England.
 
By then, it will be time for us to meet again. See you!

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