Golf: Faldo confronts his American challenge

A new era in Nick Faldo's career began yesterday with his first round in the Tucson Open, his first tournament as a member of the US PGA Tour since he resigned in 1989. Faldo, unafraid of bold experimentation, decided last year that what his game needed most to be worthy of a world No 1, and a major champion, was a strong dose of sustained play in America.

"I'm looking for some continuity, playing the same style greens, the same conditions every week. In Europe you have to battle the conditions all the time, and the practice facilities in the US are far better," Faldo said.

Faldo's obsession with practice can create the impression he treats every event that is not a major as just four more practice rounds. The competition here is another lure. "This tour has given me something to sink my teeth into," Faldo said.

Succeeding in American golf tournaments has always been a challenge for Faldo. In nine years on the US Tour in the 1980s Faldo won only twice, at the Heritage Classic and the Masters. He picked up his second Masters win four months after he resigned his membership here.

Faldo sounds as if he means it when he says he is treating seriously the 17 US events he has scheduled this year. His confidence is high after his strong finish to 1994, with a win at the Million Dollar Challenge in Sun City and second place at the Johnnie Walker in Jamaica in December. "I'd just like to pick up where I left off," Faldo said.