Golf: Faldo's video venture gives rise to nasty irony: The former world No 1 finds himself in a fix on the eve of the Volvo Masters. Tim Glover reports from Valderrama

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The Independent Online
The timing of the release of a video called 'Faldo's Fixes' could have been better. It is hyped as the first instructional film to help golfers find a cure for when things go wrong. As things have gone wrong for the former world No 1 this year, the temptation is to suggest that the physician should study the video to get himself out of a fix.

'I look at the most common faults known to golfers and set about curing them,' Faldo says in the blurb. His most common fault, apart from spending too much time making videos and not enough competing in tournaments, has been his putting. Reduced to the unorthodox grip of right hand over left, he has tended to blame the inconsistency of the greens in Europe, and next season the most successful British golfer of his generation will become a card- carrying member of the American Tour.

In his infamous critique of Europe, Faldo isolated only three courses as being worthy of bonus brownie points: Valderrama, Mount Juliet and the French National. This week he should have no excuses. The pounds 750,000 Volvo Masters, Europe's end-of-season bonanza which unfolds today, is at Valderrama which is not only the venue for the 1997 Ryder Cup but also happens to be the course on which 'Faldo's Fixes' was filmed.

Faldo has won once this year but has played in only 10 tournaments out of 36, compared to, for example, Colin Montgomerie's 20. Faldo has twice finished top of the Order of Merit but even if he wins here on Sunday, he will still be in Big Monty's shadow. Montgomerie, with pounds 602,919, has built an unassailable lead and, whatever he does this week, is guaranteed the top bonus pool prize of pounds 125,000. There is pounds 500,000 available here in addition to the prize money. Twelve months ago Montgomerie won the Volvo Masters, thereby winning the Order of Merit. If he successfully defends the title, he will win another pounds 125,000. Even if he finishes no worse than 18th here, he will take his total earnings for the year past pounds 1m.

'Every year I have gone forward,' Montgomerie said. 'My stroke average is lower. I think I have improved in every aspect of the game.' The next step for Montgomerie, of course, is to win a major championship. He came close in the US Open in June - he and Loren Roberts were defeated in a play-off by Ernie Els - and next year he will play in more tournaments in America prior to the majors. However, it never crossed his mind to follow Faldo, not to mention Els, in taking out US membership.

Jose Maria Olazabal thought long and hard about heading west but yesterday revealed he is remaining in Europe, at least for most of the season. Before defending the Masters at Augusta in April, Olazabal will be conspicuous by his absence from the European Tour which next year opens with events in Dubai, the Philippines, Spain and South Africa.

While the majority of players will be dashing all over the place in pursuit of money as well as Ryder Cup points, Olazabal will be at home in northern Spain where he spends most of his time shooting birds. A founder member of the RSPB he is not. When Olazabal described the opening of the 1995 schedule as 'amazing' he was not being complimentary. 'People keep talking about the possibility of a world tour,' Olazabal said. 'We're playing it.'

Seve Ballesteros, second in the Order of Merit, competed in the freezing Czech Open last week and described Valderrama yesterday as 'like playing in paradise'. This is music to the ears of Jaime Ortiz-Patino, the course's paternal owner. Earlier in the year, of course, Ballesteros fought tooth and nail for the selection of Valderrama as a Ryder Cup venue and went so far as to claim that Patino offered him a pounds 1m sweetener to secure his support.

Since concentrating on his game, Ballesteros has achieved Montgomerie-like consistency. In his last five tournaments Ballesteros has finished eighth, second, third, first and joint 10th. 'This year has been fantastic,' he said. 'I used to be brilliant. I can be brilliant again. I believe I can play as good as anyone.'

Faldo, who won the inaugural Volvo Masters in 1988, plays in the first round today with Sandy Lyle, who won here in 1992. It is fair to say they are not on each other's Christmas card lists. A measure of Lyle's decline is that when he won the pre-championship Canon Shoot Out on Tuesday his reward of pounds 15,700 was the biggest cheque he had received all year. Lyle has left IMG and has lost most of his sponsors. 'I've also lost the art of scoring,' he said. He can always consult 'Faldo's Fixes.'

---------------------------------------------------------------------- CARD OF THE COURSE ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Hole Yards Par Hole Yards Par 1st 389 4 10th 389 4 2nd 400 4 11th 547 5 3rd 172 3 12th 219 3 4th 536 5 13th 402 4 5th 381 4 14th 370 4 6th 163 3 15th 225 3 7th 464 4 16th 421 4 8th 350 4 17th 508 5 9th 442 4 18th 455 4 Out: 3,297 35 In: 3,536 36 ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Total: 6,833 71 ---------------------------------------------------------------------- EUROPEAN ORDER OF MERIT (GB or Irl unless stated): 1 C Montgomerie pounds 602,919; 2 S Ballesteros (Sp) pounds 462,926; 3 J M Olazabal (Sp) pounds 453,857; 4 B Langer (Ger) pounds 427,483; 5 M A Jimenez (Sp) pounds 370,103; 6 E Els (SA) pounds 311,849; 7 D Gilford pounds 294,779; 8 N Faldo pounds 293,736; 9 M Roe pounds 289,139; 10 V Singh (Fiji) pounds 273,138.

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