Nick Faldo doubts he’ll ever play in the Masters Tournament again.
“Probably not,” the three-time winner at Augusta National Golf Club (1989, 1990 and 1996) said this week.
The former No. 1-ranked player, now 55, stopped playing in the Masters after the 2006 tournament, turning his full attention to his budding golf broadcasting career. He shot 79-74 and missed the cut on the 10th anniversary of his third Masters title.
Six months later, Faldo signed a multiyear deal to be the golf analyst for CBS, which broadcasts the Masters and other PGA Tour events.
It was unprecedented for a former Masters champion at that age – Faldo was 49 at the time – to stop competing at Augusta National. He had played in the Masters 23 times and ended with a streak of 19 in a row.
Faldo doesn’t plan to play in the next few years, and he won’t be one of those former champions who plays a “farewell” Masters in his golden years. Predictably, they shoot high scores in the first two rounds and miss the cut by a mile.
“I can’t see that,” Faldo said. “I couldn’t let myself go and shoot any number. It’s just not me. … If I keep my nose clean and keep my job at CBS, I’m quite happy to be here and doing that.”
Faldo believes he could play in the Masters and still call the tournament for CBS later in the day.
“I could have, if I spoke very nicely” to Sean McManus, the chairman of CBS Sports, Faldo said.
But his time as a competitive golfer has passed, he said, and he’s fine with that.
“I’m not in this era; I don’t hit the ball far enough,” he said. “I don’t even play and practice 1 percent of what I used to do. It’s no way to gear up, so you have to forget all of that. I’ve had my day, I’ve had my era.
“I’m doing a lot of cool, wonderful things business-wise and family-wise, so I haven’t got the inclination to go and grind mentally or physically,” Faldo said. “I know how I’ve got to work.”
Age isn’t helping matters, he said.
“Like all athletes, you can’t throw it and jump it and sprint it as you get older; it all grinds to a nasty halt,” he said with a laugh.
When Faldo was winning 46 events worldwide, including three British Opens to go with his three green jackets, he was not the most popular playing partner, choosing to focus on his game rather than chatting it up.
The next generation of English players, many of whom grew up admiring Faldo, would love to play with him, especially in the Masters.
“I’d like to see him play one more time,” Justin Rose said. “That way I get a practice round with him and get some tips. He hung his clubs up quite early, I thought Nick did. I’m sure he misses the game and that competitive side. He’ll only do it if he’s fit and able and certainly capable of making the cut at the worst.”
As a former champion, Faldo has become very visible at Augusta National on the Sundays before the Masters. He plays a practice round, usually with his son Matthew, as he did this year.
Faldo could play in the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday public practice rounds, but he declines.
“I don’t need to be out there just walking and whacking it,” Faldo said.
For now, fans and players wishing to see Faldo on the course at Augusta National will have to settle for his appearance in Wednesday’s Par-3 Contest, where he will play with 14-year-old Masters rookie Tianlang Guan.