Somewhere in the Past Nasty Nick Forgotten
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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Winning on Kerr's mind this week and beyond
Cristie Kerr moved into position Friday to do more than win the 21st LPGA title of her career.
She moved into position to claim an LPGA Hall of Fame point this week.
Yes, winning is foremost on her mind at the Kia Classic, where she took the lead with an 8-under-par 64 in the second round, she’s on a larger quest, too.
After turning 40 last fall, Kerr was asked what her goals are.
“The Hall of Fame is attainable, if I stick with it,” she said.
Kerr is five shots ahead of Lizette Salas (67), In-Kyung Kim (69), Hee Young Park (70) and Caroline Hedwall (70).
It’s a good time for Kerr to get on a hot streak, with the year’s first major championship, the ANA Inspiration, next week. She has long been one of the best putters in the women’s game, but her ball-striking is impressive this week. She hit 17 greens in regulation Thursday, and she hit 16 on Friday.
“I like winning,” Kerr said. “I like challenging myself. Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older, with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, `Man, why does my hamstring hurt?’ From working around this hilly golf course.”
Kerr acknowledged Friday that her body is more vulnerable to time’s realities, but her mind isn’t.
“The golf ball doesn't know an age,” Kerr said. “I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.”
Kerr won two weeks after her 40th birthday last fall, boosting her LPGA Hall of Fame point total to 22. She is five points short of eligibility for induction. A player earns one point for an LPGA victory and two points for a major championship title. So there’s a lot of Hall of Fame ground to gain this week and next.
It’s a long-term goal that motivates Kerr to take care of her body.
“I don't think the golf changes,” Kerr said. “I think, physically, it gets harder as you get older. Like I said, I've got tape on my hamstring. I strained it, just a little bit yesterday, walking around this golf course. It's tough as you get older, just being fresh and rested. I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.”
Big names chasing Kerr into the weekend at Kia Classic
CARLSBAD, Calif. - Cristie Kerr shot an 8-under 64 on Friday in the Kia Classic to take a five-stroke lead into the weekend.
The 40-year-old Kerr had eight birdies in her second straight bogey-free round to reach 13-under 131 at rain-softened Aviara.
''I like winning. I like challenging myself,'' Kerr said. ''Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, 'Man, why does my hamstring hurt?' From working around this hilly golf course. The golf ball doesn't know an age. I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.''
She has 20 LPGA victories, winning at Aviara in 2015. She won twice last year and helped the U.S. beat Europe in her ninth Solheim Cup appearance.
''It's tough as you get older just being fresh and rested,'' Kerr said. ''I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.''
Lizette Salas, In-Kyung Kim, Hee Young Park and Caroline Hedwall were tied for second. Salas shot 67, Kim 69, and Park and Hedwall 70.
''I really like this golf course. I really like the environment,'' said Salas, the former University of Southern California player from Azusa. ''My family gets to come out. So much confidence at the beginning of the week, and definitely showed the first two days.
Jeong Eun Lee was 7 under after a 69, and defending ANA champion So Yeon Ryu had a 70 to get to 6 under.
Ariya Jutanugarn (72), Brooke Henderson (70) and 2016 winner Lydia Ko (71) were 5 under. Shanshan Feng (68) was another stroke back, and Singapore winner Michelle Wie (72) was 1 under.
Lexi Thompson was 2 over after a 74, making the cut on the number in the final event before the major ANA Inspiration next week at Mission Hills.
Kerr opened with birdies on the par-5 10th and par-3 11th, added birdies on the par-4 16th, 18th and second, and ran off three in a row on the par-3 sixth, par-4 seventh and par-5 eighth.
''I don't think you can fall asleep on one shot,'' Kerr said. ''It's a really good golf course. I think I play better on courses that demand the focus, so I think that's why I've played well here in the past. ... I'm trying not to put limits on myself right now. I've got some good things going on with my swing.''
She has long been one best putters and green-readers in the world.
''I can see the subtleties that a lot of people can't,'' Kerr said. ''It's a gift from God being able to do that. I've always had that, so I'm lucky.''
Laura Davies withdrew after an opening 82. The 54-year-old Davies tied for second last week in the Founders Cup in Phoenix, playing through painful left Achilles and calf problems.
DJ hits 489-yard drive, but it doesn't count for history
AUSTIN, Texas – Dustin Johnson is no stranger to big drives, but even for DJ this one was impressive.
Trailing in his Day 3 match at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Johnson launched a drive at the par-5 12th hole that traveled 489 yards, but that number comes with an asterisk.
“He got lucky it hit the road,” smiled Kevin Kisner, who was leading the world No. 1, 3 up, at the time. “I thought he would make an eagle for sure, he only had 80 yards [to the hole]. He didn’t hit a very good putt.”
Johnson’s drive, which was 139 yards past Kisner’s tee shot, is the longest recorded on the PGA Tour in the ShotLink era, surpassing Davis Love III’s drive of 476 yards in 2004 at the Tournament of Champions.
The drive will not go into the record books, however, because the Tour doesn’t count statistics from the Match Play.
It should also be noted, Kisner halved the 12th hole with a birdie and won the match, 4 and 3, to advance to the round of 16.
Durant leads Champions event in Mississippi
BILOXI, Miss. - Joe Durant had three straight birdies in a back-nine burst and a shot 6-under 66 on Friday to take the first-round lead in the PGA Tour Champions' Rapiscan Systems Classic.
Durant birdied the par-4 11th and 12th and par-5 13th in the bogey-free round at breezy and rain-softened Fallen Oak. Because of the wet conditions, players were allowed to lift, clean and place their golf balls in the fairway.
''It just sets up nice to my eye,'' Durant said. ''It's a beautiful golf course and it's very challenging. The tee shots seem to set up well for me, but the greens are maybe as quick as I've ever seen them here. You really have to put the ball in the right spots. I played very nice today. With the wind swirling like it was, I'm really happy.''
He won the Chubb Classic last month in Naples, Florida, for his third victory on the 50-and-over tour.
''Done this long enough, Friday's just one day,'' Durant said. ''Especially in a three-day tournament, you've got to go out and shoot three good numbers. Fortunate to put one on the board, but I know I have to back it up with a couple of good days because you can get passed very quickly out here.''
Mark Calcavecchia was a stroke back. He won last month in Boca Raton, Florida
''It's probably my best round I've ever had here and it was a tough day to play,'' Calcavecchia said. ''The greens are just lightning fast. They're pretty slopey greens, so very difficult to putt.''
Steve Stricker was third at 68. He took the Tucson, Arizona, event three weeks ago for his first senior victory.
''Just getting it around and managing my game I think like I always do,'' Stricker said. ''You get in the wrong position here with the greens being so fast and you're going to be in trouble. I did that a couple times today.''
Billy Mayfair, Billy Andrade and David McKenzie shot 69. Jerry Kelly, the winner of the season-opening event in Hawaii, was at 70 with Wes Short Jr., Glen Day, Gene Sauers and Jesper Parnevik.
Bernhard Langer opened with a 71, and two-time defending champion Miguel Angel Jimenez had a 72.
Vijay Singh, coming off his first senior victory two weeks ago in Newport Beach, California, had a 73.