Golf: Faldo arms himself with solid legs for his American trek: Briton's subdued world No 1 seeks to trigger return to his former stunning form by analysing a sluggish situation. Tim Glover reports

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The Independent Online
NICK FALDO sat in his study the night before last and did a little homework in preparation for the US Open at Baltusrol, New Jersey, next week. On a piece of paper he wrote down things like 'solid legs'. It had nothing to do with the wife or a new kitchen table. 'These are the feelings I know that work, that have won me tournaments,' he said. 'They are swing keys, little trigger points.'

Faldo is the world No 1 by mathematical formula but not on form. After missing the cut in the Volvo PGA Championship at Wentworth, where he was the picture of dejection, he was joint 33rd in the Dunhill British Masters at Woburn, where the picture had hardly changed. Over the Duke's course in the second round he had a quadruple-bogey nine at the 18th after twice hitting his drive out of bounds.

'It was a bit of a shock,' he admitted. 'It's the only pressure shot on the whole course and my swing wasn't up to it.' Faldo's explanation is that he has been experimenting with his game. 'You've got to keep looking for something to go forward with,' he said. 'Nothing stands still, especially in sport. I'm interested in motor sport and the car that wins all the races this year might not win one next year.'

Faldo, who repeatedly took the chequered flag last season, is still fine- tuning his game but with the old mechanics. 'I tried to add new thoughts to old ones and it didn't work,' he said. 'It gets to the point where you say: How much longer am I going to use these? The spur is to say: 'To hell with them'. I just want to stand up and feel right. The ridiculous thing is that the fine line between good and bad is nothing. Some weeks you get away with it. In the last few weeks I've got away with nothing.'

While Faldo has been struggling, Bernhard Langer, No 2 in the world, has won the Masters in Augusta and the Volvo PGA. In the Ryder Cup in Florida in 1983 they teamed up and won three points out of four in the foursomes and fourballs and Faldo thinks the partnership could work again at The Belfry in September. Refering to the fact that Langer has overcome his notorious putting problems, Faldo said: 'He must have amazing mental powers to overcome that. He has shown tremendous determination and dedication to keep plugging away. I used to wonder why he didn't take a rest but he couldn't do it. He had to keep plugging away.'

Yesterday Faldo opened a new course at Stockley Park, near Heathrow, on the site of a huge business development. On what was once a rubbish dump, the developers have turned brown belt into green with a combination of private and public money. The London Borough of Hillingdon, before agreeing planning permission to offices, insisted that a first-class pay-and-play course was provided.

Faldo, whose presence at Stockley Park was ensured by the fact that his management company, IMG, has a stake in the project, flies to America today and will play at Pine Valley tomorrow before practising at Baltusrol, a course he has never seen. 'I've given myself plenty of time to work out what I need to do and plan my route around the course.' He has three main points on his checklist: body, brain and game. 'Physically I'm 10 out of 10, mentally I'm fine, and my game is between 6-7. If one little tweak clicks into place everything will be all right.' And if it isn't he will have a piece of paper - 'Solid Legs]' - in his golf bag to remind him.

Ian Woosnam may change his putting style for today's Honda Open in Hamburg. He may emulate Bernhard Langer and putt cack-handed in future - left hand below right - in an attempt to halt his loss of form. Woosnam said: 'I often have rounds where I keep knocking it to 15 feet and then miss the putts. At the PGA Championship two weeks ago I putted cack-handed for the last nine holes and I did quite well. But I'm not sure whether to do it full-time.'

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