Sir Nick Faldo will return to the scene of where his illustrious career maybe reached its peak when the 2018 Senior Open presented by Rolex is played for the first time on the Old Course, St Andrews in July.
28 years ago Faldo’s victory in the Open Championship confirmed him unequivocally as the best player in the world at the time, the second of three Claret Jugs in a career that also brought three victories at the Masters.
A chance to play the Old Course in a competitive event again was just too good to miss.
“If you’re going to win The Open, St Andrews is the course that many would choose to do it,” said Faldo. “The more you play the course, the more you understand the different positions, the dangers and how to work the greens.
“The history of the place is amazing. I love the town, there’s a real atmosphere in the air. I have taken people who don’t play golf there and they really feel the buzz. You put all of that together and it’s a really special spot.”
In 1990, Faldo admitted, he was on a mission, armed with the “blueprint” – the notes on the Old Course’s intricacies gifted to him by of the former R&A captain and English amateur great Gerald Micklem.
“I had won the Masters, I lipped out (to miss a play-off) at the U.S. Open, and I vowed to myself that I would win The Open,” he recalled.
He set himself a target of five-under on the first day and reached the last three-under, with the lead at six, setting up one of his most famous shots.
“I knew I needed to make a move, and I did plot that chip shot on the 18th. The ball going in was a bonus, but I had it worked out, I knew roughly where I wanted the ball to land and then roll. That’s why the emotion was there. I set a goal and then chipped in to finish five under.”
With his great rival Greg Norman as the co-leader, setting a target was then easy, he added.
“The goal was to beat Greg,” said Faldo. “He was the best player in the world and I needed to track him. We were both 12 under after 36 holes and we played together on the Saturday.
“I don’t remember missing a putt, which is quite something. Everything inside 20 feet seemed to go in and I shot 67 for a five-shot lead.
“It was a weird feeling protecting that lead. You never know if you want to sit back and protect it or go aggressive. I was coming down the 15th, and I was only two ahead, and knew I needed to step things up. I hit a knock-down five iron which set up a ten-foot putt to give me a cushion.”
Faldo got a rare birdie on the 17th as well allowing him to soak up every bit of the great walk up 18 with the gallery following in his steps.
“At my other Majors it was always a case of head down and blinkers on. I remember turning to Fanny (Sunesson, his caddie) and saying ‘look up, take this in’.
“Seeing all the colour around the course was incredible, and when I was on the 18th I had the gallery right at the bottom of the green in the Valley of Sin and all these eyeballs on me as I tried to make that final putt.
“Winning at St Andrews in the sunshine; it doesn’t get any better than that.”
Organisers expect a host a major champions and Ryder Cup players to play in this year’s Seniors with the Old Course the ultimate lure. 1995 Open champion John Daly has already confirmed his presence.