Golf: Faldo opts for military precision

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The Independent Online
There is not much doubt what is the focus of Nick Faldo's attention for next year. And in doing everything he can to realise that ambition, he is even making sure his eyes see it the same way.

Asked for his highlight of 1996, the US Masters champion said: "Obviously, winning the US Open." He postscripted his correction with: "That's given the game away."

Faldo has already won three Open championships to go with his three US Masters green jackets and has made no secret of his desire to add the next most prestigious crown. He will have played next year's US Open venue, Congressional, near Washington, several times before teeing up on 12 June.

The 1997 season for Faldo started last week at his Florida base at Lake Nona. An intensive week on the practice range with his coach, David Leadbetter, was matched with an equally strenuous work-out regime in the gym. He has also seen an eye doctor who helps army SWAT personnel.

"Combat golfer, that's me," Faldo said. "Your eyes can be out of alignment but you can do exercises to line them up. It's mainly for putting and it could explain why I was regularly missing putts short left."

Despite an important birthday landmark next summer, Faldo has not lost any of his hunger for success. "I pushed hard at 30 for the Open and at 40 I'm still pushing hard for the US Open. I'm not going to sit back. I would hate to think that I could have tried harder.

"That's why I'm brutalising myself in the gym. I'm really working hard and enjoying it. I don't want to get bigger, it's all flexibility."

After Christmas at home, Faldo starts his season in California before journeying to Australia for the Johnny Walker Classic at the end of January. Then it is the US Tour all the way until after the US Open.

Discovering Open champions of the future is what the Nick Faldo Junior Series will be hoping to do. Promising amateurs of 17 years of age and under from Great Britain and Ireland will play in five regional order of merits to qualify for a grand final at the Forest of Arden.

Faldo, who is initially underwriting the venture with pounds 100,000, said: "Sometimes I wish I could turn back the clock and set out on a professional career with all the knowledge I have accumulated in 20 years on tour. The next best thing is to pass on all that information to the next generation.

"Starting something like this can only be a benefit. Sport is being recognised more as a career. When I told my careers adviser that I wanted to be a golfer, he said only one in 10 thousand make it. I said: `Okay, I'll be that one'."

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