ST. ANDREWS, Scotland — Nick Faldo strode onto the famed Swilcan Bridge, turned to face the applauding galleries and a phalanx of photographers, and thrust both his arms toward the sunny skies over St. Andrews.
Dressed in the yellow cashmere sweater he wore in 1987 when lifting the first of three claret jugs, Faldo posed for photos with his son and part-time caddie, Matthew, and playing partners Justin Rose and Rickie Fowler.
The six-time major champion then did arguably the most famous walk in golf, up the 18th fairway at St. Andrews.
If this was to be Faldo’s last British Open — he suggested it likely would be — Britain’s most successful golfer couldn’t have chosen a better way to go out.
“I’ll remember that,” said the 57-year-old Faldo, his eyes welling up.
Faldo’s afternoon started with a drive home from hospital, where he went to fix a deep cut in the middle finger of his right hand, and ended when he tapped in a par putt on No. 18 to complete a 1-under 71 in the second round. Although he will miss the cut by a long way, Faldo didn’t really care as he will return to his day job as a commentator for American TV network CBS with a bunch of new memories.
Like the birdie on No. 17, which was playing easily the toughest hole this week. It was just the second time he has picked up a shot on the Road Hole in 28 rounds at the British Open.
“I looked at the gods, the St. Andrews golfing gods at No. 17. I thought, ‘Thank you very much for that,’” said Faldo. “That was one of the greatest moments of my career.”
And like the drive toward the clubhouse on No. 18. He had a few seconds to himself, savoring the moment, before taking what surely will be his final tee shot at St. Andrews.
“You can’t beat that view. That is the greatest view in golf,” Faldo said. “If I’m sensible, that is it.”
Faldo has played 37 British Opens, winning at Muirfield in 1987, at St. Andrews in 1990, and at Muirfield again in 1992. He also won the Masters on three occasions (1989, ‘90 and ‘96).
He knows it’s time to put away the clubs — a first-round 83 suggested that — even if there were glimpses of his old self Friday. He had three birdies, capped by the one on No. 17 when he rolled in a putt from the swale just off the green.
“I play two tournaments a year and I can’t fall out of a TV tower and really be a golfer,” Faldo said.
It was the plan all along to switch to the yellow sweater for the final hole. One of Faldo’s friends carried it until No. 16, when he gave it to Faldo’s son. After Faldo made birdie on No. 17, he made the switch with a big smile on his face.
“Still fits after 30 years,” he said.
A few hundred feet away, Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth took a break from putting on the first green to applaud Faldo as he made his way to Swilcan Bridge.
“This was a treat of a day,” Faldo said.