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Nick Faldo shows welcome return to form

The return of Nick Faldo's vintage form created such excitement here yesterday that it was tempting to believe it was a special treat organised for the record bank holiday crowd. But the six-times major winner believes there is more to come, not least because there is a reminder of the glory years back at his side.

"It was like the good old days," said Faldo following his third tournament since being reunited with his caddie, Fanny Sunesson. The influence of his sidekick, with whom he won four of his majors before they split 18 months ago, was plain to see as Faldo recorded a five-under-par 67 to finish third.

Faldo's mannerisms and methods remain the same - even on the practice green. Sadly the repeated touching of the rim of his cap, the tugging at the trousers and the endless practice swings have not been enough to win him an event for more than four years. But the presence of Sunesson allowed him to focus solely on grinding down the seven-shot lead that Andrew Oldcorn had over him at the start of play.

That he did so with such aplomb, eventually finishing three adrift, was in no small part down to the sergeant major at his side, who acted as both controller and confidante. Spectators were ordered to be motionless and cameramen were sent scuttling if they entered Faldo's field of vision, while reassurances that the gap could be closed were issued with comforting confidence.

The belief that Faldo could test Oldcorn's resolve increased after his majestic second to the par-four 3rd hole which resulted in the first of two successive birdies. As the numbers watching Faldo grew, so his adrenalin started pumping; a clenched fist celebrated his holing out from a bunker at the 9th.

Another birdie at the long 12th moved him to within one stroke of Oldcorn and the throng of fans, young and old, urged the 43-year-old to keep up the pressure. The only blemish-free round of the day was then rounded off by a birdie at the 17th.

Faldo said afterwards that he could trust his game again. Sunesson may take much of the credit for that.


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