Faldo aims to be in good Nick for Sunningdale

Britain’s most decorated Major Champion, Sir Nick Faldo, will be hoping that a return to one of his spiritual homes can provide the inspiration for a bold title challenge in next month’s Senior Open Championship Presented by Rolex.

Sunningdale Old Course is the venue for the 2015 edition of the Championship, and Sir Nick will head to the Berkshire-Surrey border from July 23-26 riding a wave of emotion following his last opportunity to compete in an Open at the Old Course, St Andrews, the previous week.

“I imagine it will be a roller-coaster couple of weeks,” admitted the knighted Englishman, who won the second of his three Open titles at the Home of Golf in 1990. “It is definitely my farewell to St Andrews, as I won’t be eligible next time around, although I haven’t quite ruled out playing at Royal Troon in 2016, as it was the first Open venue I attended with my dad as a 16 year old. I am just keeping my options open.

“However, I am really looking forward to playing – and hopefully playing well – at St Andrews, all that golf will put me in good stead for the Senior Open at Sunningdale. Both venues mean an incredible amount to me, and I hope I can stay fit and strong and shake the rust from my game to do myself justice.

“Returning to these two famous Old Courses is an enjoyable part of life’s circle and the memories of St Andrews and Sunningdale are naturally very vivid, even all these years later.”

It is more than 40 years since a Welwyn Garden City teenager – then plain Nick Faldo – first played Sunningdale Old Course and he reflected: “I think I played for Hertfordshire in a County match and stayed locally in a hotel in Ascot. It all felt very posh! I remember thinking how amazing the greens were. I’d never putted on anything quite as good in my young life.

“To return some years later to win the European Open at the same venue was a huge thrill. It is the perfect example of a beautiful, pure, heathland course, where the ball can run and run if it’s dry. It is, quite simply, a classic Harry Colt design.”

Back in 1992, he delivered a real masterclass at Sunningdale, shooting rounds of 67-66-64-65 to win that European Open, one of six victories during a remarkable season in which he topped the European Order of Merit and in the process became the first player to complete a season with total earnings in excess of £1 million. Now a highly-acclaimed golf analyst on American TV, Faldo is bracing himself for a whirlwind two weeks doing what he loves best.

He added: “TV takes up a lot of my time nowadays, so it’s tough to pretend to be a golfer again. However, I want to enjoy the experiences at St Andrews and Sunningdale. My son, Matthew, will be on my bag and daughters Emma and Georgia will be watching along with some of my friends.

“Also, I’ve invited Fanny Sunesson to re-enact the good old times at St Andrews in the Four Hole Champions Challenge on the Wednesday of Open week. Unbelievably, it’s 25 years since she joined forces with me, and together we won the Masters and The Open in our first year. I think you call that a flying start to our association!

“I would love to make the cut at St Andrews and get in a good week, physically and mentally, so that I am good shape for Sunningdale. Of course, it’s a different game with the scorecard in your hand again.”

The six-time Major Champion is part of a world class field of legends of the game competing at Sunningdale, including defending champion Bernhard Langer, Tom Watson, Colin Montgomerie, Ian Woosnam, Sandy Lyle, Mark O’Meara, Tom Lehman and Fred Couples.

Time is running out to purchase discounted tickets in advance of gate prices. Anyone buying tickets before this Wednesday (July 1) will be able to do so for £70 (season ticket) and £25 (one day ticket). Wednesday practice day tickets are only £12. Under 16s are admitted free of charge when accompanied by an adult and parking is also free.

For more information visit www.senioropengolf.com.