Golf: Faldo fashions new ambition

Click to follow
NICK FALDO, hoping to equal the Volvo European Tour record of four tournament wins in a row in the Lancome Trophy, is not too concerned about the high-class field assembled against him, which is no great surprise given the way he has been sweeping all the competition aside recently.

But he still managed to find something to occupy him as he practised for the event, which starts at St Nom La Breteche near Paris, today. 'This is more like a fashion show than a golf tournament,' he said. 'There are so many outside disturbances that concentration will have to be my 15th club. Here photographers take pictures from my back swing to what comes out of my mouth. They even take pictures of me eating a sandwich. There's no respite.

'I have to be mentally prepared for it will be hard work this week. You can't block it out altogether because people are constantly moving and you just don't know when the photographers are going to click.'

On his last three appearances on the European Tour Faldo has won the Open Championship at Muirfield, the Scandinavian Masters and the European Open at Sunningdale. He needs one more victory to equal a feat achieved by Seve Ballesteros in 1986.

It has been a phenomenal year for Faldo, even by his exalted standards. He took until the Irish Open in June to post his first win, but his record in his last seven tournaments, including second place in the US PGA, is 1, 3, 3, 1, 1, 2, 1.

Faldo has won pounds 565,319 in Europe this season, and needs only to win another pounds 8,848 to beat Ian Woosnam's record of pounds 574,166 set in 1990. He has also won pounds 200,513 more than Anders Forsbrand of Sweden, his nearest challenger in the Order of Merit, and, with only six events to go, looks assured of finishing top of the heap for only the second time in his career.

This is not, though, the happiest of his hunting grounds. He has never finished higher than fourth in the tournament, and his best round is a three-under-par 67. Last year he finished tied for eighth.

There will be plenty of the world's top players trying to make sure he does no better this time. All of the European top 10, including Bernhard Langer of Germany, Woosnam, Forsbrand, Jose-Maria Olazabal, who put in a powerful finish in the GA European Open which Faldo won at Sunningdale on Sunday, and Colin Montgomerie are on show, as well as the former Open champion, Ian Baker-Finch, and Curtis Strange, of America.

Faldo will let the rest worry about him, especially about the way he plans to keep improving. 'At the US Open at Pebble Beach I couldn't hit wind shots properly but I got it right by the Open. You learn something from this game every day,' he said. At Sunningdale it was how to hit 'half' shots. He estimated that on up to 75 per cent of his shots - he had rounds of 67, 66, 64 and 65 - he took a longer iron than necessary to control the trajectory and landing of the ball more accurately.

There will be more lessons to come, and already he is concentrating on an attack on the 1993 majors. 'I'm really looking forward to next season. Normally you think, God, not another 10,000 balls in practice. Now I'm thinking of what I might learn from those 10,000 balls.'