Golf: Faldo fashions a model round

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The Independent Online
THESE ARE interesting times for Nick Faldo. By night he models clothes; by day he models his golf game.

On Friday evening Faldo led a troupe of golfers in a fashion show organised by his wife in aid of the Rainbow House, a hospice for terminally sick children. The man who can seem so disenchanted with himself on the golf course appeared unembarrassed at playing the fool off it. It was for a worthy cause. At least pounds 20,000 was raised.

Yesterday afternoon he went out in the third round of the GA European Open and took Sunningdale by the scruff of its elegant neck. At one point his own course record of 62 seemed in danger. He finished with a 64 and took over the lead from Robert Karlsson, a very promising, very tall and very slow Swede, who had a hole-in-one on the 13th.

A really low round was on the cards for Faldo after he had compiled the best outward half in Friday's second round and the best inward half in the opening round. All he needed to do was to put two really good halves together and he did so yesterday. His was the lowest round of the day. He went out in 32, came home in 32, and is 13- under par, one ahead of Karlsson, four of Mark James and six of Barry Lane and Jamie Spence, the winner in Switzerland last Sunday.

Faldo is setting new records almost every time he competes. His 54-hole total of 197 is the second lowest of the European season. He has played 73 rounds since the start of the year and is 158 under par. Yesterday's was his 40th round in the 60s in 1992. It is often said that he resembles a money- making machine and that certainly is an apt description of him at present. These days he is earning at the rate of pounds 150 for each stroke played on the course.

Sunningdale looked as pretty as a picture. Its fairways were mowed criss-cross to make patterns that resembled an Intarsia-style golfing sweater. Seas of heather lapped the fairways. Only an occasional breath of wind disturbed the stately pines. At times, the loudest noise to be heard was the sibilant hum of traffic on a nearby motorway. In this genteel setting which may never again be used for a large professional golf tournament it was easy to compare Faldo and Karlsson, his young challenger. The 23-year-old Swede is a good inch taller and a good bit slower over the ball. His 67, highlighted by that hole in one which earned him a pounds 8,000 watch, was thoroughly professional.

It was his misfortune, however, that Faldo's 64 was faultless. Actually, there was one mistake. On the 11th, Faldo intended to play a pitch and run to the tricky green with a nine-iron. In fact, he thinned the shot like a middle- handicapper but the ball bobbled to the front of the green none the less. Then, guess what? He sank the putt from at least 30 feet.

'Karlsson?' said Faldo later. 'He is a danger man. He has nothing to lose. He has a good swing and is playing well.' These may be the first words Faldo has ever spoken about the Swede. Karlsson had claimed never to have spoken to Faldo because Faldo had never spoken to him. Until this week, Faldo probably had never had any need to do so.

Today's fourth round should be a contest between the future, Karlsson, and the present, Faldo, the Open champion who is going for his fourth victory in his past six events.

GA EUROPEAN OPEN (Sunningdale) Leading third-round scores (GB and Irl unless stated):

197 N Faldo 67 66 64. 198 R Karlsson (Swe) 64 67 67. 201 M James 64 68 69. 203 J Spence 69 67 67; B Lane 66 68 69. 204 M Lanner (Swe) 65 68 71. 205 S Richardson 68 71 66; B Gallacher 70 66 69; M Farry (Fra) 71 65 69. 206 G Day (US) 71 69 66; P Walton 66 71 69; J Rivero (Sp) 68 69 69; I Palmer (SA) 63 74 69; P Broadhurst 71 66 69; J M Olazabal (Sp) 70 67 69; F Nobilo (NZ) 64 72 70. 207 M McLean 73 69 65; K Trimble (Aus) 72 70 65; J Payne 68 73 66; P Curry 69 70 68; R Davis (Aus) 70 69 68; T Johnstone (Zim) 69 69 69; D Gilford 68 70 69, S Luna (Sp) 67 69 71. 208 S McAllister 71 69 68; P Fowler (Aus) 71 69 68; E Els (SA) 71 69 68; J Quiros (Sp) 70 70 68; J Townsend (US) 71 68 69; V Singh (Fiji) 71 68 69; P Way 66 72 70; A Binaghi (It) 69 69 70. 209 M Sunesson (Swe) 70 72 67; A Sorensen (Den) 71 70 68; S Lyle 71 70 68; R Willison 70 70 69; P Baker 70 70 69; R Rafferty 71 69 69; C Montgomerie 68 72 69; P O'Malley (Aus) 66 73 70; R Claydon 67 71 71; J Hawkes (SA) 66 68 75. 210 J Haeggman (Swe) 74 68 68; R Hartmann (US) 70 72 68; V Fernandez (Arg) 72 69 69; H P Thul (Ger) 68 73 69; D J Russell 73 68 69; M Mackenzie 70 70 70; R Chapman 70 70 70; M Harwood (Aus) 71 69 70. 211 C Mason 68 74 69; G Brand Jnr 71 71 69; C Moody 69 72 70; D Smyth 72 69 70; C O'Connor Jnr 74 67 70; M Mouland 72 68 71; J Bland (SA) 69 70 72; J Van de Velde (Fra) 70 69 72; M Moreno (Sp) 68 69 74. 212 D Cooper 70 72 70; E Darcy 72 70 70; M Roe 70 71 71; J Sewell 70 71 71; P Senior (Aus) 69 72 71; W Riley (Aus) 69 72 71; S Field 70 70 72; D R Jones 69 71 72; R Winchester 67 72 73. 213 M Gates 72 70 71; M A Martin (Sp) 71 71 71. 214 B Malley (US) 67 73 74; M Piltz (Fin) 71 68 75. 215 B Longmuir 75 67 73. 218 M Clayton (Aus) 69 72 77. Withdrew: M Pinero (Sp).

(Photograph omitted)

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