By Cam Huffman
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS —
Nick Faldo’s home overlooking The Greenbrier’s Old White TPC Course is nearly complete. When it is, he wants to bring part of his life into his new backyard.
The golfing legend — who has won six Major Championships and is now a golf analyst for CBS — announced Tuesday at The Greenbrier Classic that he’ll be bringing the Faldo Series Grand Final to The Greenbrier this October.
“My biggest goal was to bring this series to America, so we could stretch almost across the globe,” said Faldo upon making the announcement. “After some negotiations with (Greenbrier chairman and CEO) Jim Justice, we’ve put it all together. We’ll bring all our winners from Europe and all our winners from Asia here.
“We’ll be here for almost a full week and have a three-day tournament.”
The Faldo Series hosts more than 7,000 golfers from ages 12 to 21 at 40 events in 31 countries. Previously, the events had been held in Europe, Asia and South America, and the United States will now be included.
“It’s my way of giving back to the game and creating opportunities for kids,” said Faldo of his charity series. “To now have the PGA TOUR of America involved is huge. I’m very excited for me and for the series. The real long term goal is to make this a worldwide amateur event.”
Founded in 1996 to provide opportunities for young golfers, the Faldo Series has seen the likes of Rory McIlroy and Yani Tseng come through its ranks. Guan Tianlang, who at 14 years old became the youngest player to make a cut in a Major Champonship when he did so in April at the Masters, was also part of the Series.
Beginning in 2014, American players will be eligible for the Grand Final.
“The Faldo Series is an incredibly impressive effort,” said Justice. “In giving back to golf through the Series, Nick has seen two players rise to World No. 1 in Rory McIlroy and Yani Tseng. The Greenbrier looks forward to providing a setting for history as tomorrow’s champions include a championship visit to The Old White TPC Course in their journey with golf.”
Faldo said PGA TOUR commissioner Tim Finchem has expressed interest in holding qualifying events at TPC courses throughout the U.S.
For more information on the Faldo Series, visit www.nickfaldo.com.
The Greenbrier also announced on Tuesday the creation of the Faldo Golf Center, featuring instruction based on Faldo’s award-winning “A Swing for Life” teaching series. The only one of its kind in the U.S., the Faldo Golf Center will offer Faldo equipment and Faldo by Edel fitting systems.
Faldo said that his relationship with the Greenbrier actually started in 1979 when the Ryder Cup was played on The Greenbrier Course. Faldo was a member of the European team, which fell to the U.S. team 17-11.
“I was still a rookie, really,” Faldo remembered of that trip. “It was my second Ryder Cup. To be honest, the hotel scared me. I’d never been to a hotel that big in my life. It took a 3-wood and a 7-iron just to get to my room.
“But I’ve always had great memories, and we came back with CBS at the start of the (first Greenbrier Classic in 2010). Now, I’m even more in love with the place. I’ve got a small cabin being constructed on the hill, and it’s a really special spot. I’m enjoying this being my second home.”
Justice quickly interrupted, warning the assembled media not to be fooled by Faldo’s description of a “small cabin.”
Faldo also weighed in on the recent struggles of Rory McIlroy, who became part of the Faldo Series when he was 12.
Faldo blamed the struggles of the former World No. 1 — who finished tied for 41st in the U.S. Open and tied for 25th at the Masters this year — on his switch to a Nike sponsorship, and the equipment changes that accompanied the move.
“Rory very simply messed with a winning formula,” said Faldo. “He went from Rookie of the Year to World No. 1, and he thought he could start again. As I said from day 1, it was a dangerous move. Why should the world’s No. 1 be adapting to something new?
“I hope he hasn’t gone too far and damaged his confidence.”
Finally, Faldo, who was born in England, gave his opinion on the PGA TOUR’s announcement Monday that it would institute a ban on anchored putters beginning in 2016.
“I’ve been all for that,” he said. “I can understand that we really want to go back to the original intentions of the game. It’s called a golf swing. It’s not a golf hinge. It’s kind of a little late, but I like the decision.”
— E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org and follow on Twitter @CamHuffmanRH.