Golf: US Open: Faldo Defeated by Greens

Article excerpt

It is not often that Nick Faldo holds his hands up and admits defeat, but the Monster has got to him. Referring to the greens, Faldo said: "It's a terror. I'm worn out. I don't feel like working." In a major championship, few causes are lost before a ball is struck in the final round, but at five over par, seven strokes off the lead, Faldo could not see himself winning his first US Open.

In the Masters at Augusta National in April, Faldo turned a six-stroke deficit into a five-shot victory over Greg Norman, but a double-bogey six here on the 18th in the third round stopped him in his tracks. "A birdie would have been nice, but the double bogey might have done me in."

Describing Oakland Hills as a monster is perhaps an understatement. Only two players, Tom Lehman and Steve Jones, were under par going into the final round. The greens have more undulations and twists and turns than a Coney Island rollercoaster and if Faldo found them a terror, they were a complete nightmare for Bernhard Langer.

The German was disqualified for signing for an incorrect score after the second round, but would have missed the half-way cut in any case. Three times in his career Langer has recovered from attacks of the yips, the dreaded mental/physical affliction that strikes golfers when they are standing over a three-foot putt. The Monster brought Langer to his knees and his putting is as bad as it has ever been.

He is so disconsolate he has hinted at quitting the game. "I've always said that I would stop playing when the game was no longer fun," Langer said. While it is true that consistently three-putting and even four-putting the greens here can hardly be described as fun, reports of Langer's retirement are premature. He is expected to play in the BMW International Open in Munich this week.

"He has conquered the yips before, so he knows what is required," John Simpson, his manager, said. As a last resort, Langer could always experiment with the broomhandle putter, a club that has helped transform the career of Sam Torrance.

Torrance, made an MBE earlier in the week, has surpassed himself here with rounds of 71, 69, 71 and at one over par for the tournament, he was only three strokes adrift of the leader, Lehman. Philip Walton, another exponent of the pendulum putter, was making his debut in the US Open and he found it a salutary experience.

Yesterday, the Dubliner shot 77 to finish 17 over par. "It's the toughest course I've ever played," Walton said. "The courses on the European Tour are going to be a piece of cake after this. I knew it was going to be hard, but I never imagined it would be quite so difficult. …