Faldo and Weiskopf go their separate ways

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The Independent Online
Tom Weiskopf had several things going for him yesterday. Not only did he design the course on which the World Invitational is being played but he had the inspirational company of Nick Faldo. While Faldo duly appeared on the leaderboard, Big Tom was preparing to part company from the tournament following an 82.

Faldo had paid Weiskopf the ultimate compliment, describing Loch Lomond as the finest course in Britain by some distance. Faldo played it almost perfectly in the first round for a 68, three under par, and there was also a certain symmetry about Weiskopf's performance. He went to the turn in 41 and came back in 41.

With Faldo singing the praises of the bonnie, bonnie banks it was difficult for anybody else, least of all Weiskopf, to point out that although Loch Lomond is a marvellous spot for laying down a tartan rug and nibbling at the shortbread while drinking in the scenery, it is no picnic for the golfers.

The vast majority were over par but at least the 53-year-old Weiskopf can point to his age in mitigation. That and the fact that he spent almost as much time explaining to Faldo how he attempted to merge heaven and earth as he did in playing his game. "He built the course by hand and eye. That is why every contour looks so nice," Faldo said.

Faldo had three birdies on the front nine and one on the back, picking up a bogey at the 14th where he flew the green with a wedge shot from 103 yards. "There are places you can't go and that adds an element of pressure to the hole," Faldo said. "It is a fabulous lay-out in fabulous condition. We need somebody like Lyle to set the standard."

Faldo was not referring to Sandy Lyle but to the American Lyle Anderson, the owner and developer of Loch Lomond. Sandy was enjoying one of his better rounds of the season when he came to grief on the 13th, Gallow's Hill, a par five of 560 yards. Lyle was standing at level par when he took eight and finished at four over.

That was an almost minor crash compared to the experience suffered by Mark James, who was level par after 12 holes and dropped nine strokes over the next three en route to an 83. At the 15th he found a greenside bunker but could not find his ball which was buried in the sand. He wafted around in the bunker with a club before locating the ball by hand. After taking a drop, he thinned his next shot across the green and finally scored what he thought was a quadruple-bogey eight. Before signing his card his caddie reminded James, chairman of the European Tour's tournament committee, he was not allowed to "build sandcastles" in a bunker and the eight became 10 with a two-stroke penalty for testing the surface.

Weiskopf's nemesis was a triple-bogey at the 12th. Having missed a putt from five feet he then missed the tap-in, probably on account of describing to Faldo how he had borrowed from the design of Pinehurst, North Carolina in planning the green at the 12th. Still, Weiskopf has had a worse experience at Loch Lomond. During its construction Weiskopf went out to the 14th hole early one morning and walked straight into a peat bog. "That stuff was like quicksand and I was in there up to my chest," Weiskopf recalled. "It sucked off my boots, my trousers and my socks. I found a tree root to grab hold of and it took me about two hours to get clear."

Jamie Spence held the first-round lead at four under despite a double- bogey six at the 12th. "The course is perfect," Spence said. "We will be pressing for better facilities like this in the future and we are going to learn from our mistakes. You cannot fault the course although I'm sure someone will." He obviously had not spoken to Mark James.

Scores, Digest, page 27