It may have been his 56th birthday, but there was no fairytale return to Muirfield for Sir Nick Faldo, the last Englishman to claim the Open on the Scottish links in 1992.
Faldo, who also triumphed at Muirfield in 1987, hardly plays competitively at all these days and after firing a bitterly disappointing eight-over-par 79 admitted: “The golf course is tough, you know. It's hard work. It's like glass now.”
Not that Sir Nick was too surprised bearing in mind is rustiness, adding: “This was probably the outcome of the most minimal practice and preparation in the history of the Open though even so I still enjoyed it.”
The six-times major winner admitted he was extremely nervous, specially on the long “scary” walk to the 1st tee.
Ironically his first round score was matched by Rory McIlroy who a concerned Faldo implored to focus on his golf – as opposed to other off-course activities – earlier in the week. He has no regrets about his comments and points out he just wants to see the former World no.1 get back on the right tracks after a spell in the doldrums.
Faldo stressed: “When you're a golfer, concentrate totally on your golf – just keep the other stuff minimal. I'm speaking from experience. Don't go off into the business world, because Rory has got tons of time for that.
“I got involved in business, and I know it completely changed my mindset. I’m Rory’s friend and have known him since he was 12 – he was a big part of my Faldo Series.
I'm like the big granddad here, saying those things: just give it your full attention, when you want to play golf. When you want to disappear and have a family and do other things, but don't add anymore, get me? I'm trying to give him a little caring, loving help here.”
Before heading off, Faldo revealed he’s in no rush to return to action. “You won't be seeing me next year. No way.” He had a beaming smile on his face, his parting shot being: No, I'm not saying that's it, no. But who knows? St. Andrews (2015 Open) is my next port of call, if I want to. I've got to pace myself!