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Nick Faldo launches full time commentating career

Three-times champion Nick Faldo will enter uncharted territory when he returns to Augusta National for this year's Masters in April.

For the first time since making his debut there in 1979, the former world number one will appear at the opening major of the season as a non-competitor.

Although the experience will be different, Faldo says he will have no regrets when he drives through the entry gate and along leafy Magnolia Lane toward the clubhouse for the April 5-8 tournament.

"I've had my playing career, I've been out there 30 years and this is a great opportunity for me to do something different," the 49-year-old Briton told Reuters in an interview.

Having cut his teeth as a television golf analyst for ABC Sports over the last two years, Faldo will perform the same duty at Augusta National for CBS Sports, broadcasters of the Masters since 1956.

"I don't want to be a player who's an amateur," Faldo added. "I'm now an analyst and I will be in the tower at Augusta for the whole week.

"Obviously my golf has really been curtailed and I'm quite happy about that. My playing days aren't completely over but my priority now is given to CBS."

Faldo, Masters champion in 1989 and 1990 before claiming a third title in 1996, realized his playing days at Augusta National were probably over during last year's tournament.

"I stood just off the ninth fairway in the rough with a three-iron in my hand going: 'I can't hit it on the green, there's no way I can get this damn thing on the green'," he recalled.

"I had giant bunkers up the left and knew, even if I hit it on the green, it would repel and bounce off.

"So I thought: 'Okay it's getting tough now and I haven't got the game to seriously compete at Augusta any more.'

"Now I am quite happy to go up in the booth and do the best that I can calling the action," added the Englishman, who missed the halfway cut at last year's Masters after shooting 79 and 74.

"I'm very excited about it and I will take on the challenge again."

Faldo, whose career haul of six majors also included three victories at the British Open, will replace Lanny Wadkins as lead golf analyst for CBS in the tower.

He is expected to shine in his new role, having earned a glowing reputation over the last two years with ABC for his blend of wit and insightful comments.

Known for his taciturn persona on the golf course when establishing himself as the dominant player of his generation, Faldo has become a veritable chatterbox in the broadcast booth.

Several leading players in the modern game say his analysis has allowed them to understand more clearly his on-course thinking as a six-times major champion.

Asked to describe his commentating style, Faldo replied: "I just duck and dive and go with the flow each week. If you know what you're going to get, there's no point in having me.

"I've enjoyed giving my insight, and I've enjoyed the experience of just being there watching the golf tournaments."

Faldo will also work as lead PGA Tour analyst this year for the Golf Channel, starting at this week's season-opening Mercedes-Benz Championship in Hawaii.

The Golf Channel, signed up by the Tour for 15 years, will broadcast the first three events as well as the Thursday and Friday rounds for the rest of the season.

A major benefit for Faldo, Europe's Ryder Cup captain for next year, is that he will be able to closely monitor the growing number of Europeans competing on the PGA Tour.

"My finger will be on the pulse and I will know all the scores," he said. "I'll certainly keep my eyes on what the guys are up to."

The 2008 Ryder Cup will take place at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky, from September 19-21.

January 3, 2007

 




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