In terms of golf course design, I gather you
have put in for a bid for the course in Rio
for the 2016 Olympics.
Along with a lot of others. It’s something I’m
keen to do, quite apart from the fact that it
ties in well with my new ambassadorial link
with Omega, the Olympic timekeepers. The
chances are that my bid is going to be a joint
affair with Lorena Ochoa. Lorena is just setting
out in the world of course design and is keen
to learn, which is fine by me. I have a huge
admiration for her, both as player and person,
and I think we’ll make for a great partnership.
It may be a learning process for her but it can
only help our cause that she speaks Spanish
and she knows South America.
the Japanese the main factor. Now, though,
almost every country in the world has taken
a shine to the game. So much so that I don’t
think the Americans will ever get back to
being the powerhouse that they were. In 25
years’ time, the Chinese will be at the top of
the heap if they stick to their promise of hav-
ing as many as three million people playing
golf 15 years from now. I’ve just come back
from China where I gave a clinic to 37 kids
aged between 5 and 15. The questions they
asked were such as I’d never heard before.
They didn’t want to know about technique.
Instead, they were asking about the emo-
tions of the game. Even at that early age,
they had figured out that this side of the
game is arguably the more important.
You are not playing much golf but you are
obviously as fit, if not fitter, than golfers
10 and even more years younger. You must
work at it pretty hard?
I’m fit because I still love to work out. It’s my
relief valve at the end of a busy day. I had to
do a lot of remedial work after my shoul-
der operation 12 months ago but I’m now
90 percent back to full fitness. When I’m at
home, I train five days a week, sometimes
for as much as two hours. I enjoy every mo-
ment of it.
very good conversations about competitive
situations and pressure.
I always felt that the expression “walking on
air” summed up how you were feeling when
you played at Birkdale in 2008 and led the
Open going into the last nine. You had mar-
ried Chris Evert shortly before and seemed
to be in a state of grace on the course as you
showed her what you could do.
To be honest, everything felt right that week.
What I have never mentioned, previously,
is that I was on the verge of pulling out on
the Friday before. We were staying at Skibo
Castle in the North of Scotland and the prac-
tice I did there was horrendous. I couldn’t
hit the ball at all. I managed to desist from
making that phone call and, when I got the
clubs out of the car at Birkdale, there was
a sea of change in how I was feeling. What
played up my alley as much as anything
was the weather. It was going to eliminate a
lot of the field, just as it always does when
it’s wet and windy. All through my career,
I had practised in impossible conditions in
order that I would be able to cope better
than the next man. That was one thing at
Birkdale which played into my hands, while
the course set-up was another. I loved the
way the R&A had prepared the links. In fact,
I don’t think they have ever done better on
that score. I was nice and relaxed by Thurs-
day and, yes, I wanted to play well in front
of Chrissie. I had been keen that she could
come and see what I could do. We had some
I can’t be the only person to have marvelled
at the way you captained The Presidents
Cup side with such poise immediately after
you and Chrissie announced that you were
going your separate ways?
I just had to get on with it. It wasn’t easy
because everyone wanted to know what was
going on. I didn’t say anything then about the
break-up and I’ve never said anything since.
It may sound odd, but what helped that week
was having my arm in a sling. Away from the
fact that it was very painful, it helped to de-
flect attention from the marriage situation.
You played in Europe for years without see-
ing any Italians other than Costantino Rocca.
What do you make of the advance of the
Molinari brothers and Matteo Manassero?
The game was already beginning to go
global back in the 1980s, with the advance of
Had someone put them up to asking such
I think it’s in their genes, something to do
with the general wisdom of the Orient. If you
look at the way they built 4,000 odd miles of
Great Wall to keep the Mongolians out all
those years ago, you can see that they don’t
give in easily. As a people, they are psycho-
logically very strong. The Koreans are making
extraordinary headway, too, and, if you drift
further down south, you have the Cambodi-
ans and the Indians getting stronger by the
minute. I can give you another interesting
little pointer to the global nature of the game
... the other day, I opened a new academy in
Myrtle Beach and every student was a Mexi-
can. There wasn’t an American in sight. Going
back to the Molinaris, I played with Edoardo
over the first two rounds of the Omega Euro-
pean Masters and he was terrific. What he did
to get into the Ryder Cup was unbelievable. l
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