Golf: Faldo fined for taking a rest

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The Independent Online
NICK FALDO was a late withdrawal from the Mercedes German Masters which starts today in Stuttgart because of mental and physical exhaustion.

Even though Andy McFee, the tournament director, said Faldo would be fined pounds 250 for missing the deadline for scratching, the world No 1 and Open champion has decided to take a break after playing one of his worst rounds of the year on the final day of the Piaget Belgian Open last Sunday.

Three shots ahead with 10 holes to play, Faldo had a nightmare finish of six bogeys and only four pars to come home in 42 and slump to joint fifth place. Ever the perfectionist, he could not pinpoint what had happened to his normally impeccable swing as he visited a succession of trees, bushes, and bunkers.

John Simpson, his manager, said Faldo was tired after continually being in contention over the last six months. The rest gives him breathing space before the Toyota World Match Play Championship at Wentworth next week, but the fine is still faintly farcical as he has already won pounds 591,094 this year on the European Tour.

Faldo has played in 14 European events, winning four and finishing in the top five in seven others. Inevitably, even though he has been more relaxed than usual this year, the strain is beginning to show.

Sweden's Anders Forsbrand, who is second to Faldo in the money list, a mere pounds 224,000 behind, has also withdrawn for the same reasons after playing in 27 European tournaments this year.

Faldo's absence means that the main attraction will be Fred Couples, the US Masters champion, despite a high-class field which includes Ian Woosnam, Seve Ballesteros, Jose-Maria Olazabal, Sandy Lyle and Bernhard Langer.

The American, who will be 33 on Saturday and has yet to win in Europe, said: 'It would be a big deal for me if I won over here. It's fun playing in Europe and it would be even greater fun if I won.' Earlier this year he led the world rankings for 15 weeks, but his putting has faltered recently and Faldo regained top place after the Open.

----------------------------------------------------------------- CARD OF THE COURSE ----------------------------------------------------------------- Hole Yards Par Hole Yards Par 1st 459 4 10th 208 3 2nd 558 5 11th 432 4 3rd 186 3 12th 350 4 4th 367 4 13th 405 4 5th 336 4 14th 557 5 6th 394 4 15th 186 3 7th 481 5 16th 350 4 8th 148 3 17th 465 4 9th 405 4 18th 552 5 Out: 3,334 36 In: 3,505 36 Total: 6,839 72 -----------------------------------------------------------------