Golf: Faldo junior a chip off the old block: Son put through paces as his famous father prepares for a high-class European Masters

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The Independent Online
FALDO is in the Swiss Alps, playing golf. He hits a ball to about 10 feet from the flag and takes three putts to get down. A family trait, perhaps. Matthew Faldo, aged 5, has an enthusiastic coach and it isn't David Leadbetter.

'He's getting good,' Nick Faldo said of his son and heir. 'All of a sudden he's changed his grip and he's hitting it well. He's getting some serious tuition.' This is mind boggling. The prototype was serious enough and in about 15 years' time we can expect to see M Faldo on the leaderboard. Matthew has a head start in that his father did not take up the sport until he was 13.

Despite the withdrawal of John Daly, who is receiving treatment in a clinic for a back injury following his car park scuffle with a spectator at the World Series in Akron last Sunday, the Canon European Masters has a sufficient number of Swiss bank accounts to spice the field.

In addition to Faldo there's Seve Ballesteros, Bernhard Langer, Colin Montgomerie and Corey Pavin. It also happens to be the first event that counts towards qualification for Europe's team for the Ryder Cup match against the United States in Rochester, New York, in 12 months' time. The leading 10 money winners qualify and Bernard Gallacher, the captain, has two selections instead of three. Another change is that next summer money won by Europeans in the three US majors will also count.

Montgomerie, who has the chance here of becoming the first player since Faldo in 1983 to win three tournaments in successive weeks following victories in the Murphy's English Open and the Volvo German Open, is the odd man out. Ryder Cup or no Ryder Cup, Europe's finest, with the exception of Montgomerie, intend to play more on the US Tour next season.

And Faldo's advice to Montgomerie is to go West. 'He's got to look at America if only for a couple of seasons. Monty's got a good game which is suited to Europe but the bigger challenge is to try it in the US. The courses are tougher and there are more players in contention. If you finish five shots behind in an event in Europe you'll still be in the top 10. Over there you'd be totally out of it. It's a different ball game.'

According to Faldo the recipe for Montgomerie's success is that he's been 'hitting it straight and holing a few putts. Putting is the bottom line.' Faldo has been so concerned about his own putting that he has had two greens laid in the garden at home. As for Ballesteros, he has been rising at 7am to play the first tee at his home course Pedrena. Playing on his own, Ballesteros, scoring no more than 68 in any round, has been completing the course in about two hours. 'Not bad for someone who is slow,' he said, referring to Munich earlier this month where he was warned for slow play.

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