Golf: Faldo's gravy train carries on steaming

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The Independent Online
NICK FALDO, on top of the world after his triumph in the Open Championship at Muirfield, put another jewel in the crown when he won the Scandinavian Masters here yesterday. The victory at Barseback was worth pounds 100,000, pounds 5,000 more than the cheque he received at The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers.

The one in Scotland, however, was gold-plated. This one merely confirmed his status as the finest golfer of his day. Thus far, and there is still a fair way to go this season, Faldo has won pounds 465,000 on the European Tour and that is more than he has ever won since joining a train in 1976, the wheels of which have been laced by the richest gravy. Sixteen years ago Faldo was 58th in the Order of Merit and won pounds 2,112. An indication of how the speed of this train has accelerated is that anybody finishing in the rear carriage of 50th place and above nowadays would win more than pounds 100,000.

Faldo, reckoned to be worth pounds 30m and rising, arrived in Malmo a weary man. He went through the motions in rounds one and two with scores of 70 and 72. On Saturday morning he was refreshed. 'I jumped out of bed and had the feeling that I wanted to win,' he said. And, again, he did. He shot 66 in the third round and led the field by one stroke. 'I looked at the leaderboard on Saturday night and thought that the simple thing to do was to play a good round of golf. I managed to steer out of trouble. It was a pleasant Sunday's work.'

Faldo gave himself the equivalent of an insurance policy by eagling the third hole (558 yards) as he had done in the third round. A drive, two-iron, 25 feet and in she went. He dropped a stroke at the sixth where he drove into the trees, three-putted the short eighth and three-putted the 17th. No problem. He drew clear with birdies at the 11th, 12th and 14th and his round of 69 put him at 11 under par, three strokes in front of six others who tied for second place.

Faldo has this week off, at least from tournament play, and he will spend some time with his coach David Leadbetter. The Open at Muirfield was his fifth major victory and he wants more. The US PGA Championship at St Louis next week, the last biggie of the season, would round things off nicely.

Faldo's presence at the top of the leaderboard yesterday seemed to have an intimidating effect on the rest. He cast half an eye on Peter Baker, the 24-year-old who went eagle mad in the Benson and Hedges International at York four years ago. On that occasion Baker beat Faldo in a play-off and he hasn't won a thing since. 'If I could have got to 10 under I could have put some pressure on Faldo,' Baker said. He didn't and he didn't. 'Nobody made a run at me,' Faldo said.

Over a course measuring nearly 7,300 yards which gave with one hand and took with another, he would probably, in any case, have kept the others at arms' length. Over 16 tournaments this season he is 143 under par and he has increased his lead at the top of the world rankings and the European Tour Order of Merit. 'I've been playing well all season,' he said, 'but I've still got a few things to work on. I've got to keep everything well oiled. I'm still trying to understand my game.' So is everybody else.

Philip Walton, who made the cut with nothing to spare at three over par, finished with a 69 that included a hole in one at the eighth. The Irishman, on the 175- yard hole, hit a seven-iron and the ball shot straight into the hole. The flag is situated beyond a small ridge and Walton could not see the results of his stroke. However, he heard it. 'There was an almighty clatter,' he said. 'There was no bounce, or anything, the ball just flew straight into the hole.'

The sponsors, for such a fortuitous shot, had put up a prize for an ace of pounds 10,000. The snag was it came in the form of free telephone calls. After negotiations, Walton managed to persuade them to give him a cheque instead. A neat transfer charge.

SCANDINAVIAN MASTERS (Malmo): Final scores (GB and Irl unless stated): 277 N Faldo 70 72 66 69; 280 R Allenby (Aus) 71 71 70 68; P Baker 72 69 70 69; D Mijovic (Can) 72 70 69 69; J M Olazabal (Sp) 72 67 72 69; F Nobilo (NZ) 72 70 68 70; P O'Malley (Aus) 71 70 68 71. 281 P-U Johansson (Swe) 70 70 73 68; S Field 70 74 68 69; J Spence 70 72 68 71. 282 S Lyle 70 72 73 67; C Mason 72 71 72 67; J Payne 75 72 67 68; W Westner (SA) 69 74 70 69; G Turner (NZ) 75 70 68 69. 283 S McAllister 76 70 71 66; T Johnstone (Zim) 72 73 65 73. 284 S Luna (Sp) 71 74 69 70; A Forsbrand (Swe) 69 70 74 71; H Clark 67 73 72 72; B Ogle (Aus) 72 71 69 72. 285 P Senior (Aus) 73 71 74 67; A Gillner (Swe) 74 72 72 67; D Feherty 72 74 72 67; J Robinson 71 73 73 68.