Faldo foresees a Rory Slam
GOLF:THROUGHOUT HIS career, which saw him win six Major titles and become European golf’s greatest champion of the modern era, Nick Faldo never managed to achieve one thing: a career Grand Slam. But Faldo – who first encountered Rory McIlroy when he was a prodigious teenager – proffers the belief that, one day, golf’s newest multiple Major champion can do what he couldn’t.
On the prospect of McIlroy becoming the first European player to achieve a career Grand Slam, Faldo said: “He’s got half of them already and he’s right there, anything can happen. You can’t predict anything but he now knows, and more importantly, the rest of the field knows, that when he is on they might be playing for second place.
“Jack, Seve, Tiger, Rory are the only players to win multiple Majors under 25 , that puts you in a special line, doesn’t it?”
McIlroy’s two Major wins have come in record-breaking fashion: his breakthrough win in the US Open at Congressional (where he set a record sub-par total for 72 holes) and his US PGA triumph on Sunday (where his eight-stroke winning margin over David Lynn eclipsed the seven shots margin of victory that Jack Nicklaus enjoyed in his 1980 US PGA win).
For McIlroy to win a Grand Slam, he needs to add the US Masters – where he held the 54-hole lead last year, only to suffer a final round collapse – and the British Open.
“The most important thing is to play one Major are a time. Rory now knows the most important thing in his life are the Majors and he should do everything to gear his schedule and the rest of his career for the Majors . . .” said Faldo.
As for any possibility of mental scar tissue from McIlroy’s meltdown at Augusta? Faldo said: “Shots scare you at Augusta and if you don’t know how to deal with it . I think that’s what he discovered, when everything went so swimmingly for 54 holes and I think, ‘he hasn’t scared himself at all yet’. Then he came out, first hole, scared himself and he didn’t know how to handle it. He went on a spiral and it hits you left, right and centre. There’s no let-up.
“This is all part of the learning process and he’s already proven he’s able to have an experience like that, really take the positives out of it and move on. That scar is well and truly rubbed out now. I bet he can’t wait to get back to Augusta.”
Faldo’s six Major wins – three Masters, three British Opens – spanned a period from 1987 to 1996 but he doesn’t see many similarities in their respective games. “I played a strategy game, he’s a power player and he knows how to play strategy as well. I think that’s the smart thing. You’ve got to be a Houdini with the wedge and a putter, that’s number one no matter who you are. He’s got it all.
“He has a different ability, better than the average bear, when it comes to visualisation . . You watch the way he looks at things. You watch the way he lines up bunker shots. He’s trying to hole them.He’s got to visualise what the shot is . . . Maybe it’s his golfing DNA gift. I didn’t get that, I taught visualisation to myself but he’s got something.”