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Last Updated: Thursday, 4 August 2005, 15:48 GMT 16:48 UK
Stepping out of Faldo's shadow
By Alistair Magowan

James Heath
Born: 17.3.1983, Surrey
Golf Club: Coombe Wood, Surrey
Turned pro: November 2004
Honours: 2004 English Amateur Championship, Lytham Trophy
"Be prepared" might be a phrase made famous by the founder of the scout movement but it is a maxim that Nick Faldo engrains into his cubs too.

Twenty-two-year-old James Heath is the latest graduate of the Faldo Series - Faldo's personal attempt to nurture future European champions.

And the youngster is in no doubt that the six-time major winner's influence has left its mark as he sets his sights on the European Tour.

"I did an instruction piece yesterday with some local golfers and all the stuff I think about is something that Nick has told me at one point," he said.

"I'd like to think I'd be as good without (Nick) but I do owe a lot to him. He's looked after me over the last few years.

"Preparation is the biggest thing I've learned. I do some things and other people don't understand why I'm doing them.

"Like what? I don't eat steak before an early tee-off time because it takes 24 hours to digest it, so I eat fish.

"Then I make sure I know how long to eat before my afternoon tee-off time.

"I also play the golf course on the practise ground if I can't get on the course because of a pro-am.

"So I play the first tee-off shot, put the club back in the bag and use the yardage book to see how far I've got to the first hole. I'll do all 18 holes sometimes."


Personal contact

Heath, who turned professional in November last year, first took part in the Faldo Series in 1999 and hopes to emulate its most famous graduate, Nick Dougherty.

Whereas others such as Zane Scotland have been less successful, Dougherty's maiden win in Singapore this year proved that the Faldo Series has an end product.

Heath says: "Nick's win was important for the Faldo Series in a way and for Nick himself. It's not really my place to say but he's a good enough player to have won already."

Dougherty revealed that a text message from his mentor inspired him to his maiden victory and Heath is no stranger to a choice piece of advice at exactly the right moment.

His triumph at the 2004 English Amateur Championship was followed up by winning the Lytham Trophy - smashing the tournament's previous record by ten shots in the process.

Indeed his score at Royal Lytham and St Anne's was five better than Tom Lehman's winning score in The 1996 Open Championship.

Heath explains: "Nick and I had a chat before I won the English Amateur and he said: "Just go out and win".

Nick Faldo and James Heath
Nick Dougherty: European winner
Zane Scotland: Qualified for Open at 16
Oliver Fisher: Youngest ever Walker Cup player
Kiran Matharu: Winner of 2004 Faldo Series

"Now I can just ring up Nick if I want to, but I wouldn't take advantage of it. He texts me now and then but he's conscious that I need to learn by myself. He's a busy man so it works out perfectly really."

Currently Heath stands 13th in the Challenge Tour and looks near-certain to earn his European Tour card for the 2006 season.

And invites to the Europe's elite events have left a taste which he is keen to relish on a more regular basis.

"I may not have played the greatest this year but I've got it done," he says.

"I've got that experience of getting to a tournament on Monday, practising for two days, playing the pro-am and then four days of competition.

"I played with Colin Montgomerie in Shanghai and he was a really, really nice guy. I learned a lot that day.

"But the biggest lesson I've learned is to grind on every single shot. Every single shot counts towards the Order of Merit, it counts towards world ranking points, which get you into tournaments.

"I'm quite adventurous as a golfer. I probably don't see the fairway that much, hitting a lot of shots out of the trees and getting up and down.

"But then on days when I have got my game, I can make it happen."

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