Aberdeen (United States) (AFP) - Three-time former British Open winner Nick Faldo set about justifying his invitation into the Scottish Open with a two over par 73 at Royal Aberdeen on Thursday.
Despite an opening hole double-bogey Britain’s most successful golfer fought back to complete the remainder of his round in level par with four birdies and just as many bogeys.
It left the soon-to-be 57-year-old trailing nine shots behind Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy who shot a new course record of a seven under par 64.
Faldo has not played full time on the European Tour since 2004 after capturing 24 regular Tour titles.
And while Faldo won three of his British Open titles in Scotland -- in 1987 and 1992 at Muirfield and 1995 at St. Andrews -- the now full-time TV analyst has never tasted success in a Scottish Open.
But Faldo is competing mainly to attain links experience ahead of next week’s British Open at Royal Liverpool and in what will be his 36th consecutive appearance at the major since making his debut in 1976 at Royal Birkdale.
“I am here this week because I love the game of golf,” he said. “They were kind enough to give me an invitation.
“But then last year I played The (British) Open Muirfield straight out of the box, and I hadn’t played competitively for three years.
“I thought if you are being smart, let’s play a couple before The Open so at least I don’t arrive next week at Royal Liverpool completely cold.
“I played last week and now this week, and you are learning a few more little bits all the time. Still learning.
“So every day feels a little easy, but it’s still a little scary. I don’t like facing shots I haven’t even got close to practicing.“
Faldo will head to next week’s 143rd British Open having missed the cut in golf’s oldest major for the past five years.