Golf: Faldo finds the golden touch: Tim Glover on a golfer going from strength to strength

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The Independent Online
THE man wonder is giving the impression of going from strength to strength. Good news for Nick Faldo, bad news for everybody else. Now he is talking about a gold medal. The irony, in metallurgy and mentally, is that the leading amateur in the Open Championship is presented with a gold medal.

Faldo, the ultimate professional who won the Open at Muirfield in such dramatic style, has increased his earning power fivefold and the five rings of the Olympic Games hold another attraction. 'My first thought is that we are professionals but every other professional is playing in Barcelona at the moment. The bottom line is that I would love to win a gold medal. What is the amateur thing any more?' They are considering introducing golf as a demonstration sport in the Olympics in Atlanta in 1996.

Nobody is demonstrating golf at the moment better than Faldo. Midas would be envious of the Faldo touch. The gold, handled by the International Management Group, is piling up. Faldo's victory in the Scandinavian Masters over the Barseback course at Malmo earned him another pounds 100,000. Just turned 35, he is stronger, physically and mentally, than ever. There are many fine players out there, many fine strikers of the ball, but Faldo, in this mood, is overpowering them.

Nobody works harder, or thinks more, about this game than Faldo. He was, in his own word, 'knackered' after Muirfield but was committed to playing in Sweden. On Tuesday, when the weather was dreadful, he partnered Sandy Lyle in a challenge match. Appearance money yes, result of academic interest. When it came to the Nordic interest, Faldo went into professional mode.

He could have won the Scandinavian Masters doing handstands because when the name of the Open champion appeared on the leader-board, the alphabet began with F. Nobody else, I suspect, thought they could beat him. He is driving the ball further than ever, the course suited him and his new- found status did the rest. This was his 24th victory in Europe and America is next, the US PGA Championship at the Bellerive course, St Louis. To combat the heat he has already got his liquid intake worked out. This week there will be more 'fine tuning' with David Leadbetter. 'There are still a few things to work on,' Faldo said. 'I'm trying to understand my game, know how it works . . . as long as I keep learning from my mistakes . . . keep focusing on every shot . . . keep having swing thoughts . . . double check everything.'

Do not other professionals, he was asked, do all of these things? 'Yes,' Faldo replied, 'but do they find the cure?' On current form, the prescription lies in Faldo's hands.

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