Nick Faldo

53

Nick Faldo : biography

18 July 1957 –

It’s been suggested that during his career Faldo wore down the opposition and benefited from other players making mistakes in pressure-filled situations. His three Masters titles at Augusta came after mistakes by Scott Hoch missing a short putt in 1989, Raymond Floyd hitting an approach shot into a pond in 1990 and from a collapse by Greg Norman in the final round in 1996. Two of Faldo’s Open Championship wins came after mistakes in the closing two holes by Paul Azinger in 1987 and John Cook in 1992. Nevertheless, Faldo earns credit for the way in which he performed under pressure in his major victories.

Although not a particularly powerful player for a tall man, Faldo’s strengths included his distance control, course management and his strong competitive mind. He was renowned for his single-minded dedication to the game. Gary Player said of Faldo: "He had a work ethic that was quite unbelievable."

Faldo had a reputation for being an insular character who did not engage in any of the usual social courtesies. He generally kept other players at arm’s length. Faldo was described as having "an intense focus that peers found less than endearing." In 2002, Faldo’s former Ryder Cup colleague Sandy Lyle said: "I’ve never known Nick. If he walked past me right now, he wouldn’t stop to talk. He wouldn’t even say hello."

In the 1991 Ryder Cup, Faldo received criticism in the media for his conduct during a 7&6 foursomes defeat suffered with debutant David Gilford. The two English players scarcely spoke and, as Faldo was the senior partner, it was suggested that he should have done more to put him at ease. Gilford later said of Faldo: "I am a big fan of what he has achieved, but he’s not a wonderful man."

During a 1995 Ryder Cup match, Tom Lehman was critical of Faldo for not clearly telling him to pick his ball up when it was a foot away from the hole. Lehman said: "Faldo mumbled something, then made a gesture to me." This angered the American who said: "I told him to speak clearly. He stretched his arms out as if to say, ‘Put the ball in your pocket, you idiot.’ "

In an interview in 2005, Curtis Strange said: "Nick Faldo stared a lot of guys down. He had a way of folding his arms and looking at you as though he knew you were going to make a mistake. But in our playoff in the 1988 U.S. Open, I was in a good frame of mind to handle him. We didn’t say three words all day, which was fine with me. I’m proud of beating him when he was in his prime."

Nick Dougherty, who won three Faldo Junior Series events and went on to win tournaments on the European Tour, said of Faldo: "He’s the most driven human being I’ve ever known. People say Tiger Woods created the new breed of golfer but I believe Nick Faldo did."

British golf writer Peter Dobereiner gave an unflattering assessment of Faldo’s playing style. In 1990, Dobereiner described Faldo as "a loner to the point of standoffishness, consumed by ambition, arrogant, self-centred and obsessively driven by the impossible dream of technical perfection."