After yesterday's clash with Greg Norman, protestations might be in vain. A head to head between the world's top two golfers seemed a perfect platform for Faldo to recover the form that has brought him three Open titles. However, it is clear that if there is to be a Faldo revival it will have to come this week at Turnberry, venue of the Open.
The nostalgia was not just for the Faldo of two years ago. Shell has resurrected its 1960's Wonderful World of Golf and Sunningdale was its choice for an 'exotic' United Kingdom location. The invitation-only crowd of 1,500 saw Greg Norman, the defending Open champion, finish in 66, one ahead of Faldo. Sounds close. It even 'sounds interesting' said Faldo, but he was the first to admit the score was misleading.
Norman practised for 90 minutes then ran Faldo ragged for 16 holes. 'I don't know why they held it at Sunningdale, Norman was always going to murder this course,' a Faldo fan groaned. Norman said Sunningdale was among his top five courses.
The key moment came at the fourth where Faldo, having driven well, faced a three-foot putt. He missed it, but Norman made no mistake with a 16-foot putt which placed him three shots ahead. For a while Norman seemed in a different class.
Nevertheless, Faldo said he was relatively happy with his putting, and indeed those who think Faldo's only weakness has been his green play will have been delighted by a 22 foot putt at the sixth.
But yesterday there was more to Faldo's defeat. 'I've got to find something to click at the moment,' he said after receiving the dollars 50,000 ( pounds 33,000) runner-up prize. That something, he said, was 'definitely technical; the mind is all right.'
Asked if there was a particular hole which highlighted the problem, he said there were about 16 of them. One of the less depressing ones must have been the eighth where he holed his shot from a bunker for a birdie.
His audience was at the same time hopeful and critical. Stunned Sunningdale silence greeted his tee-shot at the 13th where the members generally make the green.
In contrast, Norman admitted that his only problem was that he 'lost concentration a little bit,' dropping a shot at the 18th where Faldo birdied. But no one took this seriously. It made, as Norman said, for better television. 'I like these special events,' Norman said. 'I don't see how this is going to be detrimental to the PGA Tour in America.' Clearly the professional game has grown since the last Wonderful World series and a full relaunch would be expected to produce some scheduling difficulties.
Faldo's supporters will not want his form yesterday to be a precursor to trouble at Turnberry. It would be nice to think he is keeping something up his sleeve but in golf there is little point in guile. A course has no memory. But Norman's memory of his superb 1986 Open win at Turnberry will not do him any harm.Reuse content