The six-time Major Champion is one of just a handful of golfers in the modern era to have lifted the coveted Claret Jug on the Old Course’s 18th green, and the 60 year old is relishing the opportunity to return to one of world golf’s most famous links.
“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.”
The Englishman secured the first of his three Open Championship at Muirfield in 1987, and then became the first person since Jack Nicklaus in 1965-66 to win and then successfully defend the Masters Tournament, when he claimed the Green Jacket in 1989 and 1990.
Faldo narrowly missed out on a place in a play-off at the 1990 U.S. Open at Medinah and arrived in St Andrews determined to make his mark on the Fife coast, which he did with aplomb as he set a new Open Championship record low total of 18 under par.
“I arrived in 1990 on a mission. I won the Masters, I lipped out at the U.S. Open, and I vowed to myself that I would win The Open,” said Faldo.
“My preparation went well and I felt really good about my game. I set myself a goal of five under par each day and on the first day I’m on the last and I’m three under. I looked at the leaderboard at the back of the green and I saw that six under par was leading.
“I knew I needed to make a move. 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.”
After spectacularly chipping in on the first day, Faldo was just one stroke off the pace behind Michael Allen and Greg Norman. He drew level with the Australian after the second round and then moved ahead after the third.
“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 birdied the 17th hole and set off on a famous walk down the renowned Tom Morris hole, surrounded by the gallery which followed him towards the clubhouse.
“It was a great moment walking off the 18th tee,” said Faldo. “At other Majors I’ve won it’s always been 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 putt.
“Winning at St Andrews in the sunshine; it doesn’t get any better than that.”
Faldo will be one of a host of Major Champions, Ryder Cup Captains and European Tour winners teeing it up on the Old Course during one of the most celebrated weeks of the 2018 golfing calendar.
He will join defending champion and ten-time Senior Major winner Bernhard Langer, 2016 champion Paul Broadhurst, who fired a then Old Course record-setting 63 during the third round in 1990, and 1995 Open champion John Daly who defeated Costantino Rocca in a play-off at St Andrews.
Under-16s and parking are free.
Tickets, starting at £13.50 per day, are available here.
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