Sunday 26 March 2017

'The dark knight rises' - Paul Kimmage meets six-time Major winner Nick Faldo

Nick Faldo has tried playing for the love of the game and tried playing for fitness but he could only play when he had that drive to be the best

Paul Kimmage

Paul Kimmage

Nick Faldo: ‘I’m not smart enough to talk about politics or religion or anything like that. I’m just going to talk about what I know. That was my rule. I’ll talk golf, simple as that Photo: Jane Mingay/REX/Shutterstock
Nick Faldo: ‘I’m not smart enough to talk about politics or religion or anything like that. I’m just going to talk about what I know. That was my rule. I’ll talk golf, simple as that Photo: Jane Mingay/REX/Shutterstock
Nick Faldo, Jim Nantz, Clint Eastwood

Seven years ago, on the third Friday of July 2009, I stood with a photographer outside the recorder's hut at Turnberry, watching as Sir Nick Faldo marched from the 18th green. His 33rd appearance at the Open, and first as a knight of the realm, had not gone according to plan.

"I just want to enjoy myself with Matthew (his son) on the bag," he had announced on the eve of the championship. "What will be, will be. We're just going to have fun."

But 11 over par, and certain to miss the cut, there wasn't much to smile about. He signed his card and strode directly towards the clubhouse, ignoring Matthew and a friend who were tending his golf bag.

The photographer was perplexed: "Does he always walk away from people?"

"He doesn't see them," I replied. "He's locked away in his own world; still torturing himself over the bad swings and the putts that wouldn't drop."

"But that's his son on the bag," he countered.

"Yeah."

"And he walked ahead of him on the 18th!"

"Yes, he did."

"I was waiting to take the shot. I was sure they were going to walk side by side."

"And I'm sure that was the plan."

"So what happened."

"He's Nick Faldo," I replied. "Don't ask me to explain him."

Thirteen years have passed since the summer of 2003 when I travelled to the US Open in Chicago and sat down with him for the first time. He had just signed a deal to write columns for The Sunday Times and I was to be his 'Boswell', the new keeper of secrets.

We met in the locker room of Olympia Fields, two days before the tournament, and there was a brief conversation about how the arrangement would work. My idea was that we would retire to a quiet room for an hour, pull up two chairs, and shoot the breeze like old friends.

His idea was that we would sit for 20 minutes in the players' lounge and "get it done" while he gobbled on a salad.

"Sorry Nick. I apply the same standards to my work as you do to yours," I protested. "I need some proper time and a quiet room."

"Take it or leave it," he insisted.

The column did not appear.

A week later we met again and agreed on some rules of engagement.

It was the start of a beautiful and curious friendship. Beautiful, because in the six years that followed he gave me some great times and my most cherished memory as a sportswriter, when I wanted to bury a five-iron in his head while caddying for him at the Heineken Classic in Melbourne.

Curious, because he wasn't popular with his peers and if I was asked once, I was asked a thousand times: "What do you see in that guy?" The answer was many things: a warrior who couldn't deal with conflict; a loner who hated being alone; a brilliant golfer with few social skills; a great father, a loving son, a lousy husband, a poor friend. He was, and remains, fascinating to me.

Three weeks ago, on the day before the opening round of the Northern Trust Open at the famed Riviera club on Sunset Boulevard - the scene of Faldo's last win as a professional in 1997 - Rory McIlroy was about to play a shot to the 17th when Faldo approached in a buggy.

"Can you do me a favour, Rory?"

"Sure," McIlroy replied.

"I just want to ask you a couple of questions."

"No problem."

The four-time Major winner jumped onto the buggy and the six-time Major winner hit 'record' on his phone: "What's your go-to shot this week?" I thought I was seeing things. But no, an hour later, Faldo was on the range with a notebook and pen, talking to other players.

'Whatever happened to the Dark Knight?' I wondered.

It seemed a good time to catch up.

1 'I don't feel good about this.'

The elegant 6'3" Faldo fits in wonderfully at Riviera. The sprawling Spanish-style clubhouse, where Hollywood rakes Errol Flynn and Douglas Fairbanks Jr once hung out, provides a perfect backdrop. Faldo is also stimulated by the rolling fairways, artful bunkering, tricky winds and treacherous greens on a course whose nickname - Hogan's Alley - evokes his idol. In such a big-time atmosphere Faldo once again became a big-time player. If more Tour events were held at masterpieces like Riviera, Faldo probably would have won more than two victories. "No, it's not just another one," he said after his 39th win worldwide. "This tournament has history and atmosphere. This is the sort of golf course I was meant to win on."

Jaime Diaz,
Sports Illustrated,
March 1997

Paul Kimmage: I dug out the report in Sports Illustrated from the last time you won here in 1997. Do you remember how much it was?

Nick Faldo: How much I won?

PK: Yeah.

NF: Hmmm, well I think I got about four-fifty ($450,000) the year before at the Masters in '96, so it must have been about . . . four hundred or something?

PK: Two fifty two ($252,000).

NF: (Laughs) Slightly different, yeah. This is definitely the era to be playing in - it was $1.2m (at Pebble Beach) last week! I remember I won 'the million dollar' in South Africa, when it genuinely was a million dollars, and I was shaking in my boots: 'Fuck! A million dollars!' But now it's almost so what? Do everything right and you can make five million (a year) upwards on the golf course, and if you've a decent face and a personality who knows?

PK: At what stage as a player do you stop thinking about the money?

NF: Well, back in our era to really change your lifestyle you had to win. You had to win. My first goal was to travel first class because I'd had a couple of crappy flights and thought: 'I want to make enough money so I can turn left when I get on the plane.' And that was the first time I thought about money. Then you want to change your lifestyle. You get married and you want to live at Wentworth and drive a Mercedes. I can't remember what a Merc cost then - I think it was 20 grand or something - but 20 grand was two wins! You finish fourth now and you can afford a Lamborghini!

PK: (Laughs) Yeah, slightly different all right.

NF: It's completely different. These guys are so rich and have all the toys, the house in Jupiter, the boat, the cars, they fly private everywhere . . . How do you better that? They start winning and it doesn't change their lifestyle, whereas in our day, it really did change your lifestyle. That's what I was trying to say to Rory when I was shot down: 'Concentrate on your golf. Don't get involved in business because I did, and once your mind is on something else it takes away from practising.'

PK: When were you shot down on Rory?

NF: When he signed with Nike for the big money. And when he was breaking up with the tennis player . . .

PK: (Caroline) Wozniacki?

NF: Yeah.

PK: What was the context?

NF: The deal with Nike: 'Do you take the money?' I was trying to explain that the big money at Nike wasn't going to change his lifestyle - he was already earning 15 million on and 15 million off (the golf course) and now he was taking it to what? Fifty? So what. It buys you bigger and better toys but it doesn't change your lifestyle. My point was that you have a window as an athlete, and as a golfer, and you have to respect it. So put your head down and be committed, but I don't mean being a lunatic or obsessed.

PK: But you were a lunatic, you were obsessed. Are you saying, 'Don't become like me?'

NF: Well, yes and no. Be obsessed in your golf, look after your family and friends and find a charitable trust but don't go looking for more. If I could do it all again, I would not have got involved in business at all. The most beautiful thing we have as golfers is practice - you take your balls out at nine o'clock in the morning and you go home at six. You practise all day with total concentration and fixation on what you're doing. In my time, we didn't have a phone in the bag so nobody bugged you but I can't avoid it now. I hit six balls and it starts buzzing: 'Who wants me now?' I'm useless.

PK: What was the blowback with Rory?

NF: The problem was the way it was interpreted: 'Faldo is telling him to dump Wozniacki' and this sort of stuff but . . .

PK: That's not what you were saying?

NF: No, what I was saying was that you have a window as an athlete to look after yourself and do the best you can because you can't get it back. It's not like Adele who takes three years off and then wallop.

PK: She's back at number one.

NF: Yeah, you can't do that in golf. Look at Tiger now with his injuries. He takes six months off and it's as if he's disappeared. There's no inquisition: 'Where's Tiger? What's happening with his back?' People haven't asked the question in months. So you have to be careful, never think you're bigger than the game.

PK: You've had some blowback for comments you made on Tiger too?

NF: Yeah, it was in San Diego 10 years ago - it was actually 12 years ago - on my very first week with ABC. He came to the last (the 18th at Torrey Pines) trying to win the tournament and absolutely fanned a three-iron, he missed the green short right and got away with it. I said, 'Look where he's aiming! He's pointing the club at the tent!' And everybody went mad. Tiger says, 'You haven't got the right information.' I said, 'Well give me the information.' He says, 'Speak to Hank' (his then coach, Hank Haney). I said, 'Well that's no good mate, I want the information from you.' So that was my very first tournament, the start of my new career.

PK: Did you find that hard? Taking flak when it's your job to call it?

NF: Yeah, I mean there's Phil (Mickelson) on the 18th (at Pebble Beach) last week. He has a five-footer to (get in the play-off) and the omens are good: we've just had the 50th Super Bowl. Phil has gone 50 tournaments since his last win. Jim Nantz (who presented the Super Bowl for CBS) is good friends with Phil. We're all friends with Phil so I go: 'He's going to hole it." But he misses it and Twitter lights-up: 'You jinxed him!' 'You arse!' 'You dick!' They were calling me everything under the sun. And to be really honest? I did not have a good feeling about that putt.

PK: You didn't?

NF: No, I remember thinking, 'This is a piece of cake compared to the last two,' because the putts he holed on 16 and 17 were amazing. But those greens are funny - the ball can 'ride' or get 'high' on the grass - and I thought: 'I don't feel good about this. He's going to miss.'

PK: Why didn't you go with that?

NF: It happened so fast, and that's another thing I've learnt: you get flashes of a guy holing a putt or missing a putt and you can sense some things and I say to myself, 'Be smart, be quick and go with it.' You're wrong? Fine, but say it. So it's unusual when I don't and end up kicking myself. You've got to have the balls to say it: 'Hey, this is what I think.' Because that's why you're there.

2 The Revenant.

He is not sure exactly when the red Ferrari Dino appeared in his rear view mirror, but he immediately recognised the blond hair and flashing white teeth of its driver. Greg Norman was also bound for the tournament in Cornwall and seemed impatient to begin the first round. He passed Faldo with a whoosh and was almost out of view when the Englishman decided to respond. "I thought, 'I'm not having that'," Faldo recalls, "and started shifting but he wouldn't give in and we just kept going faster and faster." Two hours later, Faldo was in front when they reached the St Mellion clubhouse and could not resist a swipe as he watched Norman step from his car and stretch the stiffness from his limbs: 'You'd better take that thing for a service, mate.' Norman smiled but was clearly peeved.

The Sunday Times,
March 2006

PK: Greg Norman joined Fox Sports last year as its lead golf anchor. It's 20 years since you both went head to head at the Masters and if someone had said back then: 'One of these guys is going to make a great TV analyst . . .'

NF: (Laughs)

PK: How many would have picked you?

NF: Probably none.

PK: It didn't work out for him at Fox. (In January, Norman was axed by the channel.)

NF: No, it didn't. And then he had his school report washed in public.

PK: Is that the same report I read? "He (Norman) didn't adequately prepare for the broadcasts. Maybe he thought being Greg Norman was enough."

NF: Yeah, I saw that and gasped because normally that never happens in the business, and there's (a split) by mutual agreement. He obviously trod on a few people's toes.

PK: "He didn't adequately prepare for the broadcast" is not something they were ever going to say about you?

NF: Well, after Greg had his report published I said jokingly to my boss here: "For the first hour next week you're going to hear me say, 'I spoke to so-and-so on the putting green, I spoke to so-and-so on the range and I just got hold of so-and-so in the gym.'" (Laughs) No, I made it a goal this year that I would talk to more players: 'What's your go-to shot this week? Give me your three best fitness exercises? What music are you listening to?' And I've actually enjoyed it.

PK: And that's a surprise, because a lot of people would have said the same of you: 'He will go into this job thinking being Nick Faldo is enough.'

NF: No, you get caught out. I'm in that chair for five hours sometimes. I have to be on the ball.

PK: What about the people who look at you now - guys you played with - who don't recognise you now: 'Where did this guy come from?'

NF: Or, 'He was an arse before and he has deliberately changed his personality.'

PK: Yeah.

NF: Well, I have to give credit to my dad, who had that Barn-Theatre-amateur-dramatics-society in him. We had three channels - BBC1 and 2 and ITV - and you sat with your mum and dad on a Sunday afternoon watching The World About Us. My dad loved humour, Frankie Howerd and Rowan & Martin's Laugh In and Till Death Us Do Part and who else was he watching . . .

PK: Sorry, you've lost me, what are you giving him credit for?

NF: Well I think I have that same bit of amateur dramatics in me.

PK: So are you saying it's a performance? That it's not the real you?

NF: No, I'm saying that it is the real me and that I get it from my dad. People have said it's a performance, and not me, and I take offence at that, I really do. How have I put that front on for 12 years? I must be really good. I'll get an Oscar! No, this is me.

PK: Talk to me about the transition: you were five months short of your 40th birthday when you won here in '97.

NF: Yeah, and that was my last win.

PK: And you've said that it was two years later, at the Open in Carnoustie, when you realised you were gone.

NF: Yeah.

PK: What was it? What was the moment?

NF: (Exhales) You just can't hit the shots you want to hit anymore, or they start to scare you. And once your nerve starts to go it is not the game to be in. It wasn't a five-minute thing, it was five years; five years of thinking, 'I can't play how Nick Faldo played.' Five years of hurt. My last chance was the 2003 Open at Sandwich. Emma (youngest daughter) had just been born and I thought: 'I'm going to win this and retire.' I was level par standing on the 15th tee on Sunday but made a mistake and looked at the leaderboard and I was five back: 'No chance now,' I thought. But little did I know that everybody would come back. Two holes later, two under was leading but I finished badly, and if I'd only kept my head down who knows?

PK: Your first time in the commentary booth was at the Ryder Cup with NBC a year before?

NF: Yeah, I did a bit for Sky and a bit for NBC at that one (The Belfry). I remember sitting with Johnny (Miller) and having fun with him because I respect Johnny. He had a reputation (as an analyst) as being harsh and I remember saying: 'I'm going to dangle you outside the window - the guys would like that.' (Laughs)

PK: Did you think at that stage there was a career in it?

NF: No, I really didn't.

PK: When did that change?

NF: I think it was with ABC in Troon (the 2004 Open). They said, 'Would you like to try it for the weekend?' and I did eight hours the first day with a 20-minute break and the second day I did eight hours straight. Todd Hamilton won and a lot of my thoughts they liked . . .

PK: But you only did it because you missed the cut that weekend?

NF: Yeah, you're right. 
PK: And if you hadn't?

NF: Who knows? They offered me a four-year contract and one of the best things that happened to me was something our producer Brandt Packer said: 'Have a good show.' I thought, 'You're right. It's not three hours of beating people over the head with facts and figures, it's a show.' So I tried to entertain a bit, and I had some good guys around me, and it was going well for two years until ABC decided they were completely pulling out of sport.

PK: It wasn't just golf?

NF: No, sport, and the whole thing changed. The Golf Channel bought 15 years of Friday coverage so I joined the Golf Channel first. And I was actually in negotiation with NBC when CBS got wind of it and called me after the Ryder Cup.

PK: This was 2006?

NF: Yeah. I had decided to have a break and was fishing at the K Club on Monday afternoon when I got the call: 'How would you like a job sitting next to Jim Nantz?' I nearly fell out of the boat. It was my dream scenario because Jim's the best and I thought we would be the best partnership.

PK: I'm surprised by how excited you were when the offer came?

NF: Well, I had made a decision that I wasn't going to go to the Champions Tour. My golfing batteries were depleted but what do you do? Where do you go? You've got to have something to do. And I was enjoying the TV work.

PK: Here's something you told me just after you joined CBS: "The power of television - and this is something I really didn't appreciate - is quite amazing, especially in America."

NF: Yeah, it really is. They love their sport here. You go to the colleges and see the facilities - Olympic pools and 100,000-seater stadiums - and it's a city. The universities are a city. You can play as an amateur in the national championships on live TV with 100,000 people watching you. What an unbelievable rush! Even if you never went on to a career in sport, how cool would that be sitting on your wall? And they all support their universities - 'I'm Notre Dame.' 'I'm Duke.' - they are so proud of it here, because they love their sport, and they sit and watch it.

PK: Do we not love sport in England? In Ireland?

NF: We do, but we don't have the same opportunities. They have a Hall of Fame for everything here so if you've done your bit for your team you're loved forever. Sport is the glue to an awful lot of business in America, it really is.

PK: Here's another quote: "When you go into the booth you're given a microphone, but nobody gives you a rule book. Nobody says, 'This is a word you cannot say.' 'This is out of bounds'."

NF: No, and it's really quite dangerous. You ease on when you first get the job and have to make your own rules.

PK: And did you?

NF: Yeah, I thought, 'I'm not smart enough to talk about politics or religion or anything like that. I'm just going to talk about what I know.' That was my rule. I'll talk golf, simple as that. I'm not going to get involved in anything else.

PK: Last week you were sitting in the booth with Clint Eastwood asking him how he became a movie star?

NF: Yeah.

PK: That's not golf?

NF: No, but I've learnt now to . . . you get fascinated with people and how they made their success. He was telling us about his time as a GI and there was this gap in the story. I said, "So one minute you're a GI and the next you're a legend! How did that happen? Fill in the gap?" And he explained how he had started acting and ended in up Rawhide.

PK: You were a year old when he made Rawhide, nine when he made The Good the Bad and the Ugly and 14 when he made Dirty Harry. What's your first memory of him?

NF: Dirty Harry. I remember the walk he had and the big Magnum.

PK: And if someone had told you back then that one day you would end up interviewing this guy?

NF: (Smiles) Yeah, well that's why I say I chose wisely. I've been on a good roll for a couple of years.

3. Speculative TV

If Johnny Miller is reading this, we hope he's sitting down. Preferably, in the comfort of his home, while wearing his favourite pair of houndstooth-pattern pants. Johnny, there's no easy way to say this, but when it comes to golf analysts, you're not the people's choice anymore. Nick Faldo overtaking Miller was one of the most noteworthy findings in Golf Digest's latest survey of TV viewers. It wasn't a blowout, but Faldo, the six-time major champion, received 58 per cent to Miller's 53 per cent in the favourite analyst category. (Respondents could choose multiple options.) In previous TV surveys (2002 and 1996) Miller was the dominant winner among analysts.

Alex Myers,
Golf Digest,
December 2015

PK: What about that initial sense of flying without a safety net? Were there any close calls?

NF: Well, you have to be careful with innuendo and language. In my very first week (the 2005 Buick Championship at Torrey Pines) we had (some footage of Bernhard) Langer putting on the green and I know Bernhard, of course I do, so I go (mimics a ham German accent): "Ya, he is probably calculating zee moisture on zee green and zee air density," or something like that. And the Monday after the producer calls: "Are you friends with Langer?" I said "Of course I am." "Well, it's just that what you said . . ." "You're joking! Because I put a German accent on?" "Well, there's a German Buick dealer and he has called in to complain." "Really? One! And we have to apologise to him? What does Robin Williams do?" And then I said: "What about my Bob Torrance (accent)?" "No, that's alright, you can do that." "What about my 'Bertie' Faldo?" "No, that's okay." "But am I not being rude to them as well?" So that was the first week, and then we get here (Riviera) and there's a Japanese golfer at the back of the green and I say: "Well, no wonder he's playing great this week with all the great sushi places in town." And they're like: "Whaaaat!! Don't say that!" (Laughs) So you have to just . . . don't even go near it.

PK: You covered your first Masters in 2007?

NF: Yeah, that was a tough one because I had only had a couple of weeks with Jim (Nantz), and outside of Super Bowl, the Masters is the biggest gig on CBS. We open the show from the Butler Cabin and I was sitting in my chair and suddenly realised, 'I haven't been back here since I won!' So I got quite emotional.

PK: But you had been back.

NF: I was? When?

PK: You presented the jacket to Tiger in '97.

NF: Yeah, okay, but I hadn't been back for 10 years.

PK: Sorry, I'm just mindful of the readers who might have pulled you on that.

NF: (Laughs) Yeah, you're right . . . anyway, the funny thing about the Butler Cabin is that when you watch it on TV you see Nantz and the chairman and the fireplace and the jacket - you don't see anything else - but it's a TV studio! There's TVs and computers and wires everywhere and people sitting there, working away.

PK: You said the first one was daunting.

NF: Well, I'm sitting in the chair and Lance (Barrow, the producer) says, "Right, we're on in three." Jim is working away on this big intro and we're opening with Tiger on the first tee but Jim's autocue breaks down and he runs off into the back room trying to fix it. I'm sitting there very quietly and we're on countdown. "Two minutes" . . . "One minute" . . . and in real life that's not a long period of time but on TV it can feel like . . .

PK: An eternity?

NF: Yeah. So we've got about five seconds to go and Nantz is still not in his chair and I honestly thought 'Shit! I'm going to have to open the Masters!' Then whoooosh, he comes in, jacket on, sits down: "Hello friends, I'm Jim Nantz. Welcome to the Masters." But when you're sitting at home and that picture pops up, you have no idea sometimes that three seconds before things were not going well. (Laughs)

PK: There's an interview with David Feherty in the current edition of Golf magazine. He was asked whether he had to 'censor' himself at the Masters and replied that he "always did it differently."

NF: (Laughs) Yeah, he had to censor himself. We used to laugh when he'd pause, that was the giveaway. He had this great line: "Luke Donald is like an ATM machine. He could swipe a card through the crack of his arse and make money." So we're at the Masters and Luke is doing well and he says, "Luke Donald is like an ATM machine. He could swipe a card through . . ." And there's this three-second pause. (He mimics a man gasping for breath.)

PK: (Laughs)

NF: ". . . the crease of his back and make money." At Augusta you have to be careful and just talk golf.

PK: He's done well here. He's a big star now.

NF: He's huge. It will be interesting to see how he goes at NBC (Feherty has just joined the station after 19 years at CBS). He'll be doing some tower work and out on the course and he loves doing those interview shows.

PK: Would you fancy that?

NF: No, that show is a lot of work.

PK: Work never frightened you.

NF: I don't know. I've interviewed Jack (Nicklaus) and Johnny for radio and that was quite fun but I've got a lot going on. The schedule is big this year - the Tour events, three Majors, the Olympics, the Ryder Cup. And I like to get home and have Mondays off with Emma.

PK: Golf Digest published a survey last month: you're the most popular analyst on TV.

NF: Yeah, to get that feedback from the public was nice. People come up to you and generally enjoy it. It's taken a while for me to learn to condense what I want to say into 30 seconds, because I generally try to say too much. I see something, I talk about it; I see something else, I talk about it. But it's best to just take one thought and finish it.

PK: How has it gone so well for you because, again, not many would have predicted that?

NF: I suppose the best analogy is McEnroe because nobody would have thought he would be so good, but I listened to McEnroe and learned from him - he has a great eye - and the things he did well. When Federer was the best, he was telling us about the things he could do better and I've tried to do the same with Rory. His good bits are good but he has some weaknesses too - the same as Jordan (Spieth) and Jason (Day), they all have weaknesses.

PK: What are the weaknesses?

NF: Well Jordan's swing can go off; Jason seems to have some health issues and with Rory it's emotion - when he's up, there's a spring in his step and he can do anything. But a few bad shots and he can get down very quickly.

PK: Brandel Chamblee voiced some concerns today on the Golf Channel that he's been lifting too many weights?

NF: Yeah, and it does look scary. When you're lifting those weights you can't go and play golf in the afternoon. There has to be a 'lifting' day. You've got 350lbs on your shoulders and a golf club only weighs 12 ounces and you don't want to screw up your feel or your touch.

PK: So his arguments are valid?

NF: Well, yeah, because we saw Tiger pump up like you can't believe and his swing got shorter and shorter but I've talked to Rory about it and he believes he's doing the right thing. He loves squatting, it's his thing, and he thinks - and I agree with him - that the power of his golf swing comes from his legs and his butt and his core, and this (lifting weights) is how you make it stronger, so it's explosive. He has put his faith in his team, and you have to put your faith in your team.

PK: Who will win more Majors: Spieth, Day or McIlroy?

NF: That's a difficult one.

PK: I'm putting a gun to your head.

NF: Well I still ain't going to be right. And questions like that just drive me nuts.

PK: Why?

NF: It's speculative and I don't do speculative TV. I hate it. That's why live TV is so good. I don't like making assumptions. Speculation and assumption are my two hate words.

PK: Explain.

NF: Well, a good example, Rory was unbeatable two years ago. He had just won the Open and the PGA driving like no man has driven the golf ball before. So you say: 'How many Majors is he going to win?' And I say, 'Well, he's either going to be disappointed he only won 19, or ecstatic he won five.' You don't know. You really don't know. And sure enough, some little things go wrong. I personally think he got his timing wrong going to the Masters last year.

PK: Really?

NF: Yeah, he was rushed - Jordan wasn't - and then he injures himself and has to come back from that. Then Jordan takes over and we go 'Well, can this guy win everything?' But when his swing goes off, he can hit it left and right as bad as anybody. The same as Jason Day. It was like the modern Hogan the way he won the PGA - every long iron was inside 20 feet and he was holing every putt. Holy crap! How good was that? But if his sinuses are bad he can't hit a barn door! So I don't know, it's tough to predict who'll be number one next year but they're all quite motivated now, and we're going to have a real good tussle.

PK: The CBS gig means you don't play the Masters any more?

NF: No.

PK: Is that hard?

NF: No, I was actually quite happy (to let it go) because the golf course has changed so much, and the game is different now. In my time we used to watch (Lee) Trevino and think, 'He can keep the ball on the face (of the club) for a foot!' It wasn't true but that's what it looked like. Now they're doing the opposite. Now they try to put the ball on the face for a millisecond and explode the ball. Bang! - and its gone. It's a completely different style of golf.

PK: You don't miss it?

NF: We came here (Riviera) a few years ago and it's such a great course, and I thought about when I had won here and 'Wouldn't it be nice to tee it up?' And the answer is no, because I've tried it and it doesn't work. I've tried playing for the love of the game, and I've tried playing for curiosity and I've tried playing for fitness but I just get frustrated.

PK: You could only play one way?

NF: Exactly. I could only play with that drive to be the best, when you wanted it all every time.

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