TWO farewells for the price of one. That’s the scenario in store at this year’s Open Championship after Sir Nick Faldo joined Tom Watson in deciding the event at St Andrews will be his final appearance in the world’s oldest major.
Twenty-five years after winning on the Old Course – the second of the Englishman’s three triumphs in the event – Faldo will bring down the curtain on his Open career in the same week that Watson, a five-times winner, will do likewise.
I am grateful for it all and grateful to golf.Sir Nick Faldo
“The Open and St Andrews will forever hold a significant place in my heart,” said Faldo, who will celebrate his 58th birthday during the event.
“My fondest moments on my journey with this great sport are woven with pictures and emotions in this setting. It all means a huge amount to me.
“I look forward to celebrating all that golf has given me as I cross that storied bridge and the wonderful memories I share with many people.
“I am grateful for it all and grateful to golf.”
As Britain’s greatest golfer of the modern era, Faldo will surely be given a send-off he deserves, even though the warmth shown to him will not be the same as that for Watson as the Scottish golfing public bids farewell to one of its favourite adopted sons.
Faldo has some “history” at St Andrews, having been taunted by some students when they famously hung a banner from Hamilton Hall behind the 18th green reading “Hit it here Nick” the day after he had refused to play his approach shot in a Dunhill Cup match in 1988 because, he claimed, fog was obscuring his view of the green.
“Sir Nick Faldo is an inspirational figure in British golf and has enjoyed a remarkable career in The Open,” said Peter Dawson, the R&A’s chief executive. “He has delighted the galleries over many years with his three victories and consistently outstanding performances.
“I’m sure there will be great anticipation among the galleries at St Andrews to see him play in The Open once again and he will receive a rousing ovation worthy of a great champion.”
Faldo’s last Open week will include him taking part in the Champion Golfers’ Challenge on Wednesday, 15 July. Others to have committed to the four-hole event include Peter Thomson, who will be celebrating the 60th anniversary of his 1955 triumph at St Andrews, as well as Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els.
“We’ve had a very strong response so far from our past champions,” reported Open Championship director of operations Rhodri Price of an event that will be broadcast live on BBC.