McDowell can open floodgates – Faldo
Nick Faldo believes Graeme McDowell can do for Europe what Seve Ballesteros did 30 years ago.
Nick Faldo believes Graeme McDowell’s US Open triumph can open the floodgates for more Europeans, just as Seve Ballesteros did 30 years ago.
“When Seve won The Masters (in 1980 and 1983) it changed people’s mindsets,” said Sir Nick, who is in Munich this week for his first tournament since last year’s Open.
“You think ‘I play against that guy and I know what I can do against him’,” Faldo said. “I know Seve’s success inspired me then and I’m sure Graeme’s win will inspire others now.
“We’ve seen it with Poulter and Rose this season. There’s a buddy thing and when one wins the other wants to even more.”
Poulter broke his US Tour duck at the Accenture Match Play in February and three weeks ago Rose followed suit at the Memorial tournament.
Amazingly, his win there started a run which has also seen Lee Westwood’s first victory in the States since 1998 and then on Sunday McDowell ending Europe’s 40-year wait for a US Open champion.
The current crop have a tough act to follow, however.
The two Masters wins by Ballesteros ignited what became known as the “Golden Era” for European golf, with Faldo capturing three Opens – the same as the Spaniard – and three Masters, Sandy Lyle one Open and one Masters, Bernhard Langer and Jose Maria Olazabal two Masters each and Ian Woosnam one Masters.
“I would predict more to come now and The Open at St Andrews next month is a perfect one,” added Faldo, who won at the Home of Golf in 1990.
Tiger Woods has, of course, lifted the last two Claret Jugs there by eight strokes in 2000 and by five in 2005, but Europe’s former Ryder Cup captain stated: “He’s not as invincible as he used to be.
“He’s had a lot to deal with off the course (a sex scandal and a fight to save his marriage) and everybody knows that. The Open is a great opportunity.”
Despite Tom Watson’s amazing second place at Turnberry last year just two months short of his 60th birthday and Greg Norman being in contention at Birkdale two summers ago, Faldo is making no predictions about his chances of doing something similar.
Now 52 – he turns 53 on the final day at St Andrews next month – he did finish 11th at the Old Course only five years ago, but has since become a full-time commentator in America and a very occasional golfer.
He plays this week’s BMW International Open with his son Matthew as his caddie and as a warm-up exercise for what will be his 34th Open – and seventh at St Andrews.
“In my job I just sit on my backside and it changes your whole body,” he added. “Your stamina is not the same and mentally it affects things too – you’ve got to hit shots to boost your confidence.”
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