Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Faldo Takes Last Try at British Open ; Returning to Muirfield Is a Special Treat for His 56th Birthday

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Faldo Takes Last Try at British Open ; Returning to Muirfield Is a Special Treat for His 56th Birthday

Article excerpt

GULLANE, Scotland - If given the option, Nick Faldo would prefer not to be standing over a putt to win the British Open. "I'm either going to win by six," Faldo joked Monday, "or be stuck in the hay somewhere."

There's a lot better chance of the latter happening.

Faldo is grabbing the clubs again for what will surely be his final Open, although his chances of being the latest 50-something player to make a serious run at the claret jug are beyond improbable.

He hasn't played a truly competitive round since his last Open at St. Andrews in 2010, hasn't played much at all over the past three years. But Faldo couldn't resist the chance to celebrate his birthday - he turns 56 on Thursday, the day of the opening round - at a course that means so much to him.

Faldo won the first of his major titles at Muirfield in 1987. Five years later, he added his name to the claret jug again at the very same place.

Both times, he won by a stroke, with a par on the 72nd hole.

"Wow, I've got a very special place here - the 18th green at Muirfield," Faldo said. "That won in my heart and my mind."

While making the cut is probably about the best he can hope for, Faldo has relished the process of trying to get his game - and his body - back in shape to be somewhat competitive with players half his age.

He has been rehabbing his ailing left shoulder. He has been working on his swing with those high-tech gadgets that weren't around in his prime. He chatted up Gio Valiante, the sports psychologist for new U.S. Open champion Justin Rose.

"I've gleaned a few gems there," Faldo said. "These kids, they've got it all now. We were still searching back in my time. I'm really enjoying that. The bottom line, I hope that for the end of the week I'm inspired, like all of us; that I want to play again and have another go here. I think that's really what's in mind. …

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