Faldo's Burning Desire
Still Strong after Three Decades
Faldo, the former world number one golfer and a winner of
six Majors, will be competing in the £1.25 million Johnnie
Walker Classic at the Pine Valley Golf Resort and Country
Club in Beijing, China, just two weeks short of the 30th anniversary
of his professional debut. Now aged 47, the great English
golfer still has a burning desire to compete as he explains
to Robin Barwick.
be virtually impossible to find a sportsman with more drive
and determination than Nick Faldo. Even now, after almost
30 years on Tour, 39 victories around the world - including
three British Opens and three US Masters - and multiple millions
of pounds earned in prize money, the Englishman strives to
improve his game and to win again.
knows that his years of playing international golf at the
highest level are numbered, but rather than kick back and
gaze at his trio of Claret Jugs from The Open gleaming on
the mantelpiece, you're more likely to find him on the range
tweaking the most intricate mechanics of his swing, working
out in the gym, or keeping a strict eye on the calories -
in his latest dietary regime, Faldo is generous enough to
allow himself a solitary dessert per week.
admire anyone who shows great commitment, like I do - anyone
who really commits themselves 100 per cent to their sport,"
says Faldo when considering the qualities of a world-beater.
"I always like to see those who keep trying to find a
way to get better all the time. I think that is important
- to leave no stone unturned and to keep searching for improvement."
this dedication to his trade that enables Faldo to tee up
in the 2005 Johnnie Walker Classic at Beijing's Pine Valley
Golf Resort and Country Club from April 21 to 24, 15 years
after he won the inaugural Johnnie Walker Classic in Hong
Kong. Another indication of his commitment is that Faldo remembers
the tournament so clearly, which must also say something about
the distinct qualities of Johnnie Walker events.
remember winning in Hong Kong very well, as if it were only
last season," smiles the golfer who also took the title
at Singapore Island Country Club in 1993. "It always
pays to remember the few you win rather than the many than
particularly remember the first Johnnie Walker Classic as
I shot 63 (a course record) that week, which doesn't happen
often, and that was great. I had been playing in Australia
the week before and got injured, and at one point I thought
I was going to have to withdraw from the tournament. But I
came to Hong Kong, tried my best, and as they say, 'beware
the injured golfer'!"
Faldo's love affair with Johnnie Walker tournaments had begun,
and before winning the Classic for a second time, he was also
triumphant at the 1992 Johnnie Walker World Championship.
Walker has been good to me," adds Faldo, who has been
known to gamely serve drinks to Johnnie Walker guests from
behind the bar at special events. "They have put me behind
the bar on occasion, which is always great fun, and I enjoy
a tipple of their Black Label from time to time myself ...
for medicinal purposes you understand," he jokes.
the advantages of being among the world's elite golfers is
that you are welcome to play in virtually any tournament you
choose, and like a number of Faldo's Tour colleagues competing
in the 2005 Johnnie Walker Classic, such as Ernie Els, Sergio Garcia and defending champion Miguel Angel Jimenez, Faldo
has always been keen to see the world. The broad experience,
in terms of variety of golf courses, competition, cultures
and climates, make golfers more rounded as players. A frequent
visitor to China, Faldo has even designed a golf course there.
really enjoy China, it's a great country," starts Faldo.
"I first went there to do a design project at Mission
Hills - and what a fantastic development that has turned out
to be - and I have also spent a lot of time in Beijing, for
business and on holiday with my wife Valerie. I have visited
the Ming Tombs and The Great Wall, and the Forbidden City
and I love Chinese art too."
began playing Tour golf in the late 1970s - the former English
Amateur champion turned pro in 1976, aged 19 - there were
very few opportunities for European pros to play in the Far
East, but thanks to the commitment of sponsors such as Johnnie
Walker to develop the game, golf has flourished in the Orient,
and progress continues apace.
of an estimated 60 million golfers in the world today, 23
million are Asian, and while China has approximately 300,000
active golfers, there are another 14.5 million Chinese people
who would like the opportunity to play, signifying enormous
potential in the country.
is one area of the world that still has great expansion ahead,"
states Faldo, who was golf's first Tour golfer to win over
£1 million in a single season, in 1992. "The climate
in Asia is excellent for an outdoor sport like golf, and we
are just waiting for more Asian players to venture out onto
the world stage and become dominant players. When more Asian
golfers get the opportunity to travel and get that experience,
some of them will find fantastic success."
picks out Korea's Kevin Na as one of the Asian golfers to
watch in the near future. Born in Seoul, South Korea, Na is
only 21 years old, yet he is fast making his presence felt
on the PGA Tour in the United States. Another golfer who has
impressed Faldo is China's Zhang Lian-wei, who became the
first Chinese player to win on the European Tour when he dramatically
defeated Ernie Els at the last hole of the 2003 Caltex Masters
game is ready to take-off," adds Faldo, "and the
Asian countries just need a few more heroes to inspire the
youngsters and attract more attention to the sport, and that
will really accelerate development."
who has found fame and fortune from an exceptional career,
it has now become one of Faldo's priorities to help develop
the game, and to give talented youngsters an international,
competitive outlet as they swing their way towards reaching
their own professional aspirations. The Faldo Junior Series
is now established as one of the premier competitions for
young golfers in the UK and Europe, and in 2005 for the first
time, the Series has set down in Asia.
am delighted to be getting involved in pushing development
in Asia, and it was very exciting to bring the Junior Series
to Fanling in Hong Kong for the first time in January, to
kick off the 2005 Junior Series" explains Faldo, a father
of four. "We are helping to develop the youngsters and
give them another competitive outlet, which is exactly what
they need. The idea eventually, is to go all around Pan Asia."
Faldo has strong links with Asian golf and the Johnnie Walker
Classic in the past, with such forward thinking and willingness
to pass on his expertise, his greatest legacy to golf in the
Far East may lie in the future.
will be part of an exceptional field at the Johnnie Walker
Classic, Asia Pacific's premier golf event, which also includes
former winner Ernie Els, defending champion Miguel Angel Jimenez
of Spain and his Ryder Cup compatriot Sergio Garcia, plus
a host of other top international and Asian players. The tournament
will be held at Pine Valley Golf Resort and Country Club in
Beijing, China from April 21-24. For further information click
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