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Faldo plays it one more time

The Faldo-Leadbetter phenomenon that was so symmetrically rubber-stamped at Muirfield in 1987 gave rise not only to the second coming of the man who would become Britain’s greatest ever golfer but also established David Leadbetter as the most sought-after coach in golf’s modern era. On a happy personal note, the timing of their success also happened to coincide with my first steps in the magazine business, and as the Instruction Editor at one of the top publications of the day I found myself hurled in at the deep end, regularly working alongside ‘Lead’ and our new Open Champion to deliver an insight into the concepts behind their collaboration, the innovative drills and practice regimes that would catch the imagination of golfers around the world.

Talk about a privileged education; a box-seat to witness the work that goes on behind the scenes and the evolution of a golf swing that would earn Nick six major titles during a golden decade, while Leadbetter garnered the respect and admiration of his peers around the globe for the shot-in-the-arm he gave his profession. I’m delighted to that both Faldo and Leadbetter feature prominently inside this issue as we savour the return to Muirfield for what promises to be a fascinating Open. And while former champions tend to follow in the tradition of waving playing days goodbye from the Swilken Bridge at St Andrews, don’t be surprised if the three-time Open champion’s planned appearance at Muirfield this summer represents a final lap of honour for Sir Nick – a tip-of-the hat to the links that has been such so good to him and his career.

Elsewhere inside this issue you will find reflections from Peter McEvoy, who played numerous internationals, a British Amateur and a Walker Cup at Muirfield, plus there’s a fascinating interview with the R&A’s Peter Dawson. We are lucky, also, to have the observations of the author Curtis Gillespie, who spent a year living with his family in Gullane, and who recalls the people, the places – and of course the golf – that make East Lothian such a spiritual destination. There’s nothing quite like the anticipation of an Open Championship – especially at a course such as Muirfield. It’s the greatest major of them all – you know what to expect, and you’re never disappointed.

Sadly, the same can no longer be said about the PGA Championship at Wentworth – supposedly the flagship event on the European Tour but, strangely, one very few of the top European players seem to get revved up about playing. Leaving aside the travesty that has been visited upon Harry Colt’s original West Course, the whole shebang just has the feel of a corporate outing, shiny BMW’s on plinths at every junction and lavish hospitality pavilions hogging the best view of the 18th green (where the public grandstands should be). The golf, it seems, has been reduced to a sideshow (shouldn’t it be The PGA Championship brought to you by BMW?)

That the European Tour’s premier event is preceded by a celebrity Pro-Am on Wednesday really says it all – other than the size of the purse, any pretensions of this being a major event along the lines of The Players Championship have long since departed. Thanks to the vagaries of our print schedule the vast majority of the pages in this issue went to press before Justin Rose made history at Merion. Thankfully, however, one or two sections were held over until the Monday after that sensational performance and we are thrilled to carry a brief report and photographs celebrating his triumph.

Following in Hogan’s footsteps – what a way to win your first major.

July 2013

Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine


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