BBC SPORT Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX    SEARCH 

BBC Sport
 You are in: Golf: The Open  
Sport Front Page
-------------------
Football
Cricket
Rugby Union
Rugby League
Tennis
Golf
Statistics
US Masters
US Open
The Open
USPGA
Ryder Cup
Motorsport
Boxing
Athletics
Other Sports
-------------------
Special Events
-------------------
Sports Talk
-------------------
BBC Pundits
TV & Radio
Question of Sport
-------------------
Photo Galleries
Funny Old Game
-------------------
Around The UK: 
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales

BBC Sport Academy
BBC News
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
LANGUAGES
EDITIONS

  Sunday, 21 July, 2002, 14:07 GMT 15:07 UK
Faldo's final fling
Nick Faldo on from the fourth green of Muirfield
Faldo couldn't get his putter going at Muirfield
BBC Sport Online's Matthew Slater at Muirfield

Nobody will try harder at Muirfield on Sunday, or longer, but it just wasn't happening for Nick Faldo the way it used to.

The six-time Major winner - twice an Open champion here - carded a 71 to finish his 2002 Open challenge on five over par.

There will be no third straight Muirfield win for the 45-year-old Englishman.

And watching him struggle around the famous links course, you couldn't help wondering if we were watching his last meaningful round in a Major championship.

Although nobody is saying Faldo is finished - he is currently playing his most consistent golf for years - he is without a win of any kind since 1997, and this was surely his last real chance to grab another piece of history.

A fifth-place finish at last month's US Open had encouraged Faldo fans - and he still draws a crowd - to think a return to Muirfield could provide a dream finale to his playing career.

But a 76-71 weekend ended any hopes Faldo may have had going into Saturday's third round.

Starting 10 shots off the lead on Sunday, Faldo needed to make a quick start, but four straight birdie putts refused to drop.

Perhaps they were a little bit longer than they once were, or maybe his putting stroke isn't as reliable, but as the pre-putt preparations lengthened, his frustration grew.

The three-putt bogey on five was as depressing as it was inevitable.

Faldo, however, has never been a quitter, and he continued to give it his all.

Every shot was rehearsed, every putt lined up, every miss taken personally.

And once his round was over there was further evidence of the much-touted new Faldo - the all-smiling renaissance man who just loves to chew the fat with the world's media.

Faldo will be back, but you can't help thinking that we have seen the last of him as a genuine contender in a Major championship.

He is too dedicated to allow his game to deteriorate like Seve Ballesteros has, but he is too much of a perfectionist to keep playing for the sake of it.

And the big bucks and bonhomie on offer in the Seniors Tour hold no attraction for Faldo - he doesn't need the money and has never seemed to want the friendship of his fellow pros.

Whatever Faldo decides to do in the coming years he won't walk away from golf completely.

He is the favourite to captain Europe's Ryder Cup team when they visit Oakland Hills in the US in 2004, and his course design and golf restaurant sidelines will come to the fore.

Ironically, given his Siberian relationship with the media in the past, he will also do more television and press work.

So there is plenty to do, and much to look forward to.

But the claret jugs and green jackets are surely all now in the past now for one of golf's great stars.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Nick Faldo
"I was sword fighting it around the hole"
Gary Evans
"I am stunned at the moment"
BBC Sport Online's Open Golf Championship news section

All the Muirfield action

More Open coverage

Your say on The Open

Clickable guides

Internet link
Links to more The Open stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more The Open stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

Sport Front Page | Football | Cricket | Rugby Union | Rugby League |
Tennis | Golf | Motorsport | Boxing | Athletics | Other Sports |
Special Events | Sports Talk | BBC Pundits | TV & Radio | Question of Sport |
Photo Galleries | Funny Old Game | N Ireland | Scotland | Wales