November 13, 2007 – A relaxed Nick Faldo is refusing to let the Ryder Cup cloud his thoughts as he prepares for a rare competitive outing at this week’s UBS Hong Kong Open.
The English great will captain Europe when the biennial contest is staged in Valhalla, Kentucky in September next year and already he is facing questions about which players might make his team.
“It’s very early days,” he told reporters in Hong Kong. “I’m not really going to comment on who is doing what because they’re going to jostle like crazy for the next nine months or so and it will all come down to those last couple of months and how much they want it.”
Faldo – Europe’s all-time leading scorer in the Ryder Cup, having played in the event a record 11 times – preferred not to look too far ahead.
“It’ll all come out in the wash,” he insisted. “Right now, the guys are in the ‘get out there and get on with it’ phase and it won’t start to tighten up for them and for me until September when I have to make my two captain’s picks, that’s the next big decision for me.”
Faldo, who turned 50 this year, is making only his third European Tour appearance this year at the UBS Hong Kong Open, which tees off on Thursday at the Hong Kong Golf Club in Fanling.
The six-time Major winner is a star attraction both on and off the course this week as he takes on an “ambassadorial” role at the tournament as a guest of UBS.
Asked about his game, he said: “As you can imagine, it’s a little rusty, although I did manage a couple of days practice in Orlando last week before I came over. But I’m looking forward to it. It’s nice to get out and stretch the legs and see a bit of sunshine.
“This week is different for me. I’m an ambassador for UBS and I have a role off the golf course, too, which I enjoy. My golfing career was back then and so to come here and enjoy it – and to be excited when I hit two good shots in a row – is great!”
Faldo has fond memories of Fanling, having shot a third-round 62 – a course record at the time – on his way to winning the inaugural Johnnie Walker Classic in 1990.
Reminded of that win, he said: “Crumbs, that was moons ago. But I really enjoy it here, this is one of the foremost golf courses in Asia.
“This is always a good spot and it has good atmosphere and the field this week is great. UBS must be delighted that they’ve managed to pull in some really good names.”
The US$2.25 million showpiece is being headlined by two-time US Open champion Retief Goosen, 2003 Masters champion Mike Weir and world No.11 KJ Choi.
“I think it’s their strongest field,” added Faldo. “And I didn’t realise it was the tournament’s 49th year, so it’ll be a special week. You know, I’m 50, you get the link!”