There was an air of gentle relief following the announcement that the much-celebrated Champions Challenge had fallen victim to the weather on Wednesday. St Andrews today is drenched in the bleakest of rain clouds, so the thought of watching an event that would have no real bearing on column inches was not, it seems, the ideal idea of fun for a horde of scribes with deadlines to meet.
Still, with a flurry of past Open winners now twiddling their thumbs, Nick Fadlo was free to serve up his thoughts to the press as he returns to the scene of one of his greatest Open performances 20 years ago.
Faldo will say he doesn’t have that competitive edge anymore. Why should he? He’s more likely to get a bad back these days as a result of the chair that he sits in than any ageing ailments he suffers via his golf swing. But he is here to rekindle memories, and his opinions, no matter how questionable they may be, are always good value. Stick him in front of a bloke with a pen and notepad, and there’s always the likelihood he can get punchy.
Though there were inevitable pointers towards finding his successor for Major glories, Faldo saved his most cutting view for Tiger Woods – the man he was supposed to be walking the fairways of the Old Course with during Wednesday afternoon’s Challenge.
A question to Faldo about Woods will always carry some baggage. Ever since the Englishman’s swing assessment of the 14-time Major winner during the Buick Invitational in 2005, the relationship has been frosty at best. So what, according to Nick, does Tiger have to do to win over the fans and keep the critics and media off his back?
“Give,” said Faldo. “The more you give to people, the more you get back.”
Considering such a comment was aimed towards a media tent full of hacks that have been starved of much ‘give’ from Faldo over the years, you couldn’t help but think of ‘double standards’.
Faldo is right though; Woods must open up at St Andrews if he is to feel the love and affection that carried him through to victories in the Auld Grey Toon in 2000 and 2005. But it’s not as simple as that.
Woods will undoubtedly smile when the time is right, and there hasn’t been much to smile about since last November. But as Faldo also claimed: “As golfers you can only worry about your game. You put the blinkers on and get your head down.”
Double standards again? Seems like the ‘giving’ will have to wait.