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Sir Nick

Six-time major tournament victor, and winner of 43 tournaments worldwide, Nick Faldo is enjoying his new role as a TV commentator
Jeff Williams
From the Print Edition:
George Lopez, January/February 2010

(continued from page 1)

"I was naturally ingrained," he says with the naturally laid back demeanor of those who are so ingrained. "I left school at 16 in pursuit of becoming a professional golfer. My commitment and dedication as a 16-year-old was pretty darn good. Religiously, I would go to the course every morning, regardless of rain, hail, snow; the only thing that would stop me was ice. Inbred, natural dedication, passion. I loved it. I was so happy just going down there and playing, practicing, learning.

"I often get asked, especially at my Faldo Series, how many balls do you have to hit? When I'm asked that question, I know they aren't going to get there. For me, it was just daylight. When it was light I hit balls, when it was dark I came home. I was so happy."

It was this happiness that we seldom saw. To be sure, there were more issues pulling at his life than simply his desire to get to the top, not the least of which was his contentious relationship with the media. His first marriage, to Melanie, was brief. His second marriage, to Gil, produced three children, Natalie, Matthew and Georgia, over 10 years before his second divorce. He had a famously public romance with 19-year-old Brenna Cepelak that ended with her bashing his Porsche with a golf club. His third marriage, to Valerie, produced daughter Emma, but it, too, ended in divorce. All of this was keen fodder for the "red tops," the English tabloid press, with whom he warred and ignored. When he won the British Open in 1992, he rather amusingly acknowledged the press, thanking them "from the heart of my bottom."

"My personal life was totally different," says Faldo. "I was very happy off the golf course. Gil and I spent 10 years together and had three children.

I was a golfer and a daddy, enjoying the home, enjoying the spoils. I used to keep the golfer bit sort of a secret from the kids. Then we would be walking around England and someone would ask for an autograph and they'd go, ‘Why are you doing that, Daddy?' And their mum would say, ‘Daddy's a famous golfer. Daddy's Nick Faldo.'

"The best thing about kids is that a grown man can get on the floor and not feel embarrassed. I loved it."

The public never quite knew that side of him, however. His armor plating kept the family life inside of him. And it didn't exactly endear him to others, though former competitor and CBS colleague David Feherty found Faldo's resolve interesting, perhaps even admirable. It wasn't really until Faldo moved to television that Feherty finally got an inkling of the more complete man.

"I really think enigmatic is the wrong word, but it's not far off," says Feherty. "Hogan was enigmatic in an asshole kind of way. There isn't that with Nick. There is a neutrality to him. I'd tell you in a heartbeat if he had been an asshole, and a lot of people have given him that moniker.

I just saw a guy who was incredibly focused. I said, ‘Wow, that must be incredibly boring.' To sacrifice all the things I enjoy, the camaraderie, the laughs, the ridiculous situations I got into. He was on this relentless, unstoppable march to No. 1 and nobody was going to get in his way."

Feherty sees the same absolute dedication, the fastidious nature, the fussiness over details that Faldo the golfer now brings to Faldo the television commentator. "When he came to broadcasting he probably said more to me in the first half-hour than he had said in 20 years," says Feherty. "I knew he was a bright guy. He works very hard. He still in some sense is the same way he was. He wants to be the best he can be.

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