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BRITANNIA RULES AGAIN

July 10, 1989
July 10, 1989

Table of Contents
July 10, 1989

Giants
Bislett Games
An American Summer
  • Our intrepid vacationer and his family picked an exciting river in Utah for the wild, wet opening leg of their summer on the road

Golf
Faldo & Lyle
Perspective
Point After

BRITANNIA RULES AGAIN

In Nick Faldo and Sandy Lyle, the ancestral home of golf once more has not one but two of the world's preeminent players

It has been a long time since British golf fans have had an enduring homegrown hero to cheer for. Starting in 1913, when jug-eared Francis Ouimet, a young, unknown Massachusetts amateur, knocked off Britain's great champions, Harry Vardon and Ted Ray, in America's then relatively insignificant national open, the British kept a stiff upper lip as waves of foreign invaders, from Bobby-Jones to Seve Ballesteros, came ashore, looting and pillaging the ancestral home of the game. Tony Jacklin, from Scunthorpe in Lincolnshire, lit a flame of hope when he won the British Open in 1969 and the U.S. Open the next year. But Jacklin's promise faded and the fire fizzled.

This is an article from the July 10, 1989 issue Original Layout

Now, at last, the years of patient waiting are over. Out of a single decade have emerged not one but two British-born champions. If all Sandy Lyle and Nick Faldo had done was win the British Open—Lyle in 1985 at Royal St. George's and Faldo in '87 at Muirfield—an entire generation of British golf lovers would have gone to their graves satisfied. Imagine, then, the joy in the land of Vardon and Ray when first Lyle and then Faldo won the Masters, in 1988 and '89, back-to-green-jacketed-back, beating the Yanks in the tournament Americans revere most, the tournament a British golfer had never won. Maybe Faldo spoke for all that Sunday in Augusta, after he sank a 25-foot putt in near darkness to beat Scott Hoch. "It's the world!" he said.

Lyle and Faldo have been playing golf with and against each other since they were teenagers. In the minds of their countrymen, who have followed their careers since 1974, when they converged for the first time on an all-England boys' team, they are as inseparable as gin and tonic. Their public rivalry and their private lives have been chronicled in recent years as if they were rock stars. Along with Ballesteros, Bernhard Langer and Ian Woosnam, they are the glamour of the European tour. Where they go, spectators, sponsors and the press follow. Last spring 10,000 people showed up at a suburban course near London, on a weekday afternoon, to watch the five play a skins game for charity. Thousands more will trudge beside them two weeks from now, when the British Open is played at Troon.

On the surface, Faldo and Lyle seem to be a matched pair. They are tall, handsome and thirtysomething. They each have two children, drive Porsches and live in big houses in fashionable suburbs. They have the same business manager, they are millionaires two or three times over, and the queen herself has made them Members of the Order of the British Empire for their service to the nation.

Under all the trappings of newly rich, professional athletes, however, Faldo and Lyle are about as different as two British blokes can be. Faldo is English; Lyle is a Scot, though born in England. Faldo is intense and driven; Lyle is easygoing to the point of somnolence. Faldo spends his money; Lyle, the son of thrifty Glaswegians, counts his. Faldo plots his future in five-year plans; Lyle would prefer not to have to think further ahead than the next round. Faldo is quick-tempered and sensitive to criticism; Lyle rarely gives or takes offense. Faldo is a perfectionist who works relentlessly on his game; Lyle relies on feel and what Faldo calls "the greatest natural talent in the world."

When Lyle is having swing trouble, as he has been for several months, he tinkers, and now and then he talks to one of golf's many gurus. But when the chips are down, he reverts to the short, flat swing he's comfortable with, a swing his caddie, David Musgrove, jokingly says he learned sweeping dew off greens with a bamboo pole. Faldo cannot abide such halfway measures. When he decided in 1984 that his swing was unreliable, he went to David Leadbetter, an Orlando, Fla., teaching pro, and said, "Throw the book at me." For more than two years, during which he won no tournaments, Faldo slowly, painfully, fitted the pieces together until, early in 1987, he won the Spanish Open on a tough course in windy conditions. He knew then that he had found what he was looking for.

Faldo and Lyle are both full-blown celebrities, but Lyle is the one the average Brit recognizes as one of his own. Shy, unassuming, his blond hair mussed, his collar askew, he has always been and still is "good old Sandy." Stories of his absent-mindedness, affectionately told, are a staple of press-tent humor. Lyle once said, "Everything I've ever done in my life I've done by slow, not by quick." He prefers a threesome to a twosome; the quicker pace of the twosome sometimes throws him off. Musgrove says Lyle has played some of his best rounds in pro-ams because he likes the slow pace.

On the other hand, Lyle's wit can be quick. When he won the TPC at Sawgrass in 1987, a reporter, looking for a local angle, asked him the difference between the TPC and the British Open. "A hundred and twenty years," Lyle shot back, blunting the needle with a smile.

When Lyle was a Shropshire lad, his father, Alex, the professional at Hawkstone Park, asked a schoolteacher to write a short speech for his son to deliver when he won a tournament. "It had to be done," says Alex. "When he was 13 and 14, he used to be quite happy to finish second because he didn't need to make a speech. I think he's very good at it now—except when he was in Japan. He was making a speech there, and thanking them all, and he said, 'I really do enjoy Chinese food.' "

The perks that go with being Faldo or Lyle these days are impressive. When President Bush was in London in early June, Faldo was among the guests who dined at 10 Downing Street with the Bushes and the Thatchers. Lyle, too, has been invited to functions at No. 10, but he has never been able to fit them into his schedule. "I feel terrible turning them down, because they're very busy people themselves," he says with utter sincerity.

Because Lyle is affable and approachable, and perhaps because he can laugh at a joke on himself, he has an easy time with the British press. He can make a sly crack about Faldo now and then, and get away with it. He remains good old guileless Sandy.

Faldo's relations with not only the press but also the public and other golfers have a thorny history. Things he did and said when he was a brash, impatient newcomer are still held against him in some quarters. He insisted on a single room so his sleep would not be disturbed, when other players were doubling up. He is said to have boasted that his putting stroke would one day win the British Open. Those do not seem capital offenses in a young and singularly determined athlete, but they haven't been forgotten.

Marriage, fatherhood, success and a maturing sense of responsibility have smoothed Faldo's abrasive exterior in recent years. Since winning the British Open, he has worked at being more patient, at suffering fools, if not gladly, at least civilly. But one or two writers still snarl at him in print in a manner unimaginable to an American sports-page reader. When Faldo won the Masters, a column in the Sunday Mirror began, "Nicholas Alexander Faldo, MBE, began life in a small terraced house in Welwyn Garden City. Sadly, it remains quite big enough to stage the party when our U.S. Masters champion comes home in his green jacket. The friends of Faldo are few." And that was only the beginning.

Comparisons of Faldo and Lyle have been inevitable, and Faldo's role as the heavy goes back at least to 1980, when they were Britain's two best young players. That year, at the Kenya Open, Faldo reported Lyle for a rules infraction, which resulted in Lyle's being disqualified. On the 2nd hole of a round in which they were paired, Lyle had placed a piece of tape along the head of his putter because the glare of the sun on the metal was distracting him. In doing so, according to the determination of the tournament committee, he had altered the playing characteristics of the club during a round, in violation of the rules.

Faldo could have, and probably should have, spoken to Lyle when he first noticed the tape, giving Lyle the chance to remove it. Instead, Faldo reported it to an official after nine holes. His action did not go down well with everyone. When Brian Barnes, another British pro, met Faldo in the clubhouse later, Barnes said, "Well, that's a nice thing to do to a fellow professional."

Lyle and Faldo have always eyed each other carefully. In recalling the first time he saw Faldo, Lyle said, "He had a long, fancy swing, and he was a bit unpredictable." Lyle had a big edge in experience over Faldo. He played his first tournament when he was 11; Faldo didn't pick up a club until he was nearly 14.

Lyle could swallow defeat; Faldo used to choke on it. Twice at the World Match Play Championship, the showpiece of the European season, Faldo and Lyle have gone head-to-head for 36 holes. Both occasions were treated like heavyweight title fights in Britain, and both times Lyle was the winner. In 1982, they met in the first round. Faldo was six holes up on Lyle after the first 18, having played the last seven holes in five under par. During the break between 18s, Lyle, "trying to make a game of it," he said, changed putters, and by the 4th hole he had cut Faldo's lead to three. Faldo was still one up with nine to play, but Lyle went ahead at the 13th, and at the 17th, with his eighth birdie, he won the match 2 and 1.

The loss would have been crushing to Faldo no matter who administered it. That it was Lyle only magnified the pain. Later Faldo said, "There are some defeats that take a long time to get over. That was one of them, because you begin to question your ability."

Off the course Faldo and Lyle are friendly in the manner of old schoolmates at a reunion who were not really friends. Lyle has never seen even the outside of Faldo's house in neighboring Ascot, though it is only a few minutes from his own. However, when Lyle won the 1988 Masters on the last hole with a spectacular seven-iron shot from a fairway bunker and a heartstopping 10-foot putt, Faldo was on the balcony of the Augusta National clubhouse with Lyle's parents, shouting happily as Lyle emerged from the scorer's tent.

Lyle's casual approach to golf and life amazes and amuses Faldo. "I'll be doing my bit, grinding away," he says, "and Sandy comes along, has a couple of swishes, and off he goes. And he's happy." Faldo remembers one tournament in which Lyle apparently didn't even bother to warm up. He arrived at the 1st tee, took his couple of swishes, whacked his drive down the fairway, grabbed his shoulder and said, "Ooh, that's a bit stiff."

"Just like any average guy," Faldo says, marveling.

Lyle became engaged recently to a young Dutch woman, Jolande Huurman, whom he met while she was traveling with the European tour, making a precarious living as a free-lance sports therapist and masseuse. Huurman is taller than Lyle, who is 6'1", and athletic in a dancer's way. She trained for years to be a ballet teacher but gave it up when her height blocked her advancement.

Huurman now runs Lyle's large, rambling house on the edge of the Wentworth golf club in a section of suburban London called the stockbroker belt. When they travel, she watches over his diet. "I have a bit of a sweet tooth," he says. "I could easily go to cream cakes."

Huurman will have none of that. "It's just keeping an eye on the amounts," she says. "He would have the intention to eat eggs every morning, but I must say, 'You ate eggs yesterday, so you can forget it today.' "

Before he met Jolande, Lyle was married for six years to Christine Trew, who once had played passable golf on the European women's tour. Their marriage, which produced two sons, Stuart, 5, and James, 3, seemed happy, and the tabloids wrapped it in a rosy glow. But in 1987, shortly after Lyle won the TPC, Christine walked out, taking the boys with her. This spring, not long before the Masters, at which Lyle, the defending champion, missed the cut, Christine remarried. When he got back to England, Lyle collected his sons for a short visit, as he does whenever he can, but this time he had to return them to the home of his former wife's new in-laws. "It can't not have an effect," says Musgrove.

Exactly what, however, is far from obvious. Nobody really knows what drives Lyle, although a suspicion persists that the engine is simply a massive talent trapped inside the body of an average guy who loves to play golf. Every so often the talent bursts loose. "I sometimes think Sandy plays in a cloud of unconscious competence," BBC golf commentator Peter Alliss once said.

In 1985, two weeks after Lyle shot a 90-plus at the Irish Open, he won the British Open. "You never know when he's going to jump up and win," Greg Norman once said. "He's the most dangerous when he's playing the worst," says John Simpson, Lyle and Faldo's business agent. Adds Musgrove, "That's because he's thinking, 'I'm not playing well.' That helps him concentrate, believe it or not."

On a day in May when the English sun was shining with July force, Lyle was sitting on the grass in his garden, soaking up the peace of a week at home. He was talking about this year's Masters, not about Faldo's victory or missing the cut, but about the past-champions dinner on the Tuesday before the opening round. According to custom, the defending champion is the host and chooses the menu. Lyle chose as the first course haggis, a traditional Scottish dish made of offal and oatmeal steamed in the lining of a sheep's stomach.

"The haggis was made in America," he said. "But it was pretty good. Ben Crenshaw was golloping it down. Some of the others never touched it. They served it on a big tray and had the bagpipe music playing—on a tape recorder—but it was the next best thing."

"Next time you'll have to import a real piper," said his listener, making conversation.

"There won't be a next time, now," said Lyle.

"Why not?" asked the startled listener.

Lyle thought for a moment, and then, as if it had never occurred to him, said, "I suppose you're right. I could win again and host it the next time."

By rights, that sort of thinking ought to worry the man's caddie, whose standard of living depends to a degree on the boss's frame of mind. "He's thinking about the next round, not the next year," says Musgrove. "The Masters is too far ahead. I can safely say I have not wasted one minute's drinking time worrying about him."

Virtually every flat surface in Lyle's house bears some mark of his 20 years of tournament golf. Bowls, salvers and loving cups rest on shelves, windowsills and countertops, all of them testimony that competitive fires burn as brightly in Lyle as in any other golfer of his generation. But the crystal trophy in the kitchen that holds whisks and wooden cooking spoons says the fire will not consume him. "Sandy just plods along at his own pace," says Faldo. "Success or failure will never change that."

"One year I'm up and the next year Nick is," says Lyle. "I think its been like the days when Arnold Palmer was ruling the roost and then Nicklaus came into the light, and it was always back and forth. If I didn't have Nick to compete against, I might get a little complacent. I think it's what keeps you going, keeps the edge. I win a major, then he does the next year. That's the way the pattern has been so far. When we get to the end of our careers, maybe at 40 or so, there's not going to be much in it. We've both had major wins and great achievements. It's been good for me and good for European golf as well."

Eventually Lyle's thoughts turned to Faldo's new house. When Lyle was told the place had a swimming pool, he grinned. "Spares no expense," Lyle said. "Only the best is good enough for Nick."

Faldo's large, Georgian-style home backs up to the grounds of the Ascot racecourse. A 20-foot-high fir hedge shields it from the view of passersby, but MUIRFIELD, on a metal plaque mounted on a gatepost, announces who the owner is and how he got there. Behind wrought-iron gates a swimming pool that would get passing marks in Beverly Hills glitters in the morning sun.

Faldo was padding about his new carpeting in shorts, bare feet and a Pringle golf shirt that bore his signature logo, a caricature of a golfer in plus fours. Within weeks of Faldo's winning the Masters, Pringle, the Scottish sportswear manufacturer with whom he has had an endorsement arrangement for several years, sold out its entire summer line. "I've just heard from John [Simpson] that Pringle are going to devote a whole division to my line," said Faldo.

While Faldo talked he sprawled on a couch in a bright, high-ceilinged living room whose windows overlook the pool. At one point the housekeeper brought him a cup of tea and a biscuit. "It's the finishing touches that take so long," he said, surveying his near-perfect world. "I drive the builders absolutely mad. I can walk straight into a room, and if something they're doing is a hair skew, I can say, 'It's not quite right, is it?' It's not as if I have to study it for an hour. I can just see it."

All was right with Faldo this day. Home in England with his family, the sun shining, the Masters still vivid in his memory, he was relaxed and expansive. His wife, Gill, was making lunch for Natalie, 2, while Matthew, who was born a few weeks before this year's Masters, was taking the air in his carriage, looked after by the nanny. "When Natalie starts school, the family is going to be based here more, so there'll always be somebody in the house," said Faldo. "Then I can start having cats. I love cats. When I was young, we had two black ones, Sampson and Delilah. The boy, Sam, was mine. He was great, so lovable. He had a nice fat face, like a sea otter."

The tabloid press had a field day with the breakup of Faldo's first marriage. The union lasted five years, but it was over in all but name by 1983. "Being a golf wife is a terribly secondary existence," Melanie Faldo told John Hopkins of The Sunday Times. "You're always orbiting around an enormous star. You exist only as a satellite."

Gill was working for Simpson in the London office of IMG, the organization that represents Faldo and Lyle, when she and Nick met. They began dating in December 1983, and in early 1984 Gill quit her job to join him on the PGA Tour in America. When Melanie found out, she filed for divorce. STAR GOLFER NICK IN LOVE TANGLE was the front-page headline in one London tabloid. Reporters laid siege to Melanie's house in England, while photographers chased Nick and Gill from Hawaii to Australia.

"Today's news is tomorrow's fish-and-chips paper," says Gill. "I had to keep remembering that. It was a hassle, but we brought it on ourselves."

Gill is a small, dark-eyed, competent woman who handles her role as a satellite with aplomb. She and Nick were married in January 1986, and are, as she says, "very much on the same wavelength." Their tastes match as perfectly as the walls and curtains do in Nick's snooker room. And, Gill says, they have never argued.

On or near a golf course, however, Faldo's famous temper still explodes without warning. "I'm not a bubbling cauldron," he says. "It just suddenly happens. Something sparks you off. Ninety-nine percent of the time you can control it. Then the odd time you can't."

At the Masters this year Bill Blighton of the London paper Today caught Faldo striding grimly, head down, off the practice green after a five-over-par 77 in the third round. Blighton asked him to comment on his round, and, Blighton wrote, Faldo replied with "a torrent of abuse and expletives." Blighton also reported that "within half an hour" Faldo had apologized.

As for the other kind of anger for which he is known, the kind that makes golfers glare at earthworms, as Norman once was observed doing, Faldo says, "I need that to kick myself up the backside, to get myself going. Otherwise I mope around and nothing happens. I know when I've gone too far. Sometimes I say to myself, 'Oh, shut up.' But you can get caught up in being too nice and just playing along. You have days when you need to turn it on."

Faldo and Lyle both had happy, healthy childhoods at the center of loving, attentive families, but the similarities in their upbringing end there. Lyle was born in Shropshire in the West Midlands of England in February 1958. He took up golf not long after he took up breathing—and almost as naturally. His first home was the professional's cottage attached to the golf shop at Hawkstone Park on the edge of the village of Weston-under-Redcastle (pop. 120). When he was a baby, his mother, Agnes, would set him on a blanket in the rough alongside the 18th fairway, where she could watch him from the pro shop window. The family corgi stood guard, barking if Sandy strayed from the blanket.

Alex and Agnes Lyle are Scots from the town of Milngavie, 10 miles north of Glasgow. Alex is the son of a farmer who converted his land to a golf course in the 1920s and put his sons to work running it. Essentially a self-taught player, Alex learned the game well enough to teach it to his son and others. "He observes well, like me," says Sandy. "And he stores things up."

The older of the two courses at Hawkstone occupies land that has never been cultivated. Some of its beeches and oaks are 200 years old. The course dips and rises, wrapping itself around the base of a dramatic sandstone outcrop 100 feet high. From the Road Hole, which follows the route of an old carriageway, a stone arch, all that is left of an ancient castle, can still be seen atop the cliff.

The cliff, the golf course and the shed where the mowers are stored were Sandy's playground. When he made bows and arrows out of sticks and string, the feathers were cut from score-cards pinched from the counter in the golf shop. He was given his first golf club when he was three, and by eight or nine he was playing the course in the evenings—after the paying customers had gone—with his older sister Anne. "She was the first person I actually tried to beat," he says.

Sandy entered his first club tournament at 11. Hawkstone Park had no junior program, so he played against the men. "I remember the first tee," he says. "It was nerve-racking. This was the U.S. Open to me. I'd played quite a bit of golf after school, friendly matches with other people, but this was my first tournament."

When he was 12, he began playing in county matches, and by 13 he had moved on to regional tournaments. Even then Lyle had a short, fiat, inelegant swing, though in those days it was also slow. "If you have a flat swinger, he's going to get flatter and flatter till he can't handle it," says Alex, now retired. "I used to back him up to the locker room wall, say, about six inches away. If he hit the wall on his backswing, it helped him to think and get a little more upright."

"At the time, I felt it was just golf, golf, golf," says Sandy. "Other people were playing football or going roller-skating or biking. I was just there, and everywhere around me was golf."

Overgolfed, perhaps, but getting better all the time, Lyle was invited at 14 to try for the England Boys, the national under-18 team. "I shot 74 in one of the rehearsal rounds," says Lyle. "It was such a good score under the conditions that they couldn't believe it, so they made me go out again. I shot 74 again and got onto the team quite easily. I got my tie and a blazer, and that was the real start of the big time."

Faldo was born in July 1957, into a two-bedroom council house on Knella Road in Welwyn Garden City, a commuter suburb an hour north of London in Hertfordshire. The house was the last in the row, and in its small side garden Nick's father, George, an accountant, planted apple trees and a copper beech. Nick's mother, Joyce, was born on Knella Road. Her father was a bricklayer from Lincolnshire who helped build the town in the 1920s.

As the only child of adoring parents who were convinced he was destined to be something special but didn't know what, Nick was encouraged to pursue anything that struck his fancy. George and Joyce used their limited means to open as many doors as they could for their son, and no matter which he chose, they backed him up with guidance and encouragement.

At the age of 10, Faldo was a good enough swimmer to win the Hertfordshire county medal in the 100-meter breaststroke. "For your punishment you got to go to a three-day training thing at the Crystal Palace in London," he says. "With 100, 200 kids in the pool it was foot-high waves, just whacking me in the face, and I hated every single length until the last one. I laughed all the way down the last, and that was it."

Today George and Joyce Faldo live in a cozy brick cottage in a better section of the town than where they started. "We all lived council before we came up in the world," says Joyce cheerily. She is a trim, vivacious woman of 61 who vibrates with youthful energy. George, tall and slender like his son, grew up in Bow in London's East End. Supposedly a Cockney is anyone born within the sound of the Bow bells, but George, wearing one of Nick's old cashmere sweaters, which he calls "hand-me-ups" ("You don't say no to cashmere, do you?" says George), and speaking, as he does, in soft, measured tones, could pass for a Anglican vicar.

Until he was 14, Nick was an all-around athlete, participating in every school sport except gymnastics—soccer, rugby, basketball, cricket, track (800 and 1,500 meters) and field (discus). He raced bicycles on Welwyn Garden's banked track, played tennis, had dance lessons, even took a five-day course in skiing on dry slopes—anything Joyce could dream up to keep him busy. "No way was he going to hang about watching the box," she says.

Nor was Nick's artistic potential overlooked. He was taken to ballet and opera at Covent Garden, plays at the Mermaid, even fashion shows at Harrods. His parents say he loved it all, except opera.

When he was three months shy of 14 and on Easter holiday from school, Nick watched "the box" long enough to see part of the 1971 Masters. "Afterward, I just said, 'Mother, I'd like to try that.' " Once again Joyce sprang into action, although neither she nor George knew anything about golf. Within a day Nick's first lesson had been booked. "We knew right away this was different from what had gone before," Joyce says.

On his 14th birthday Nick played his first round of golf. The half-set of clubs he used was a birthday present from his parents. "A half-set probably cost about 50 quid," says Nick. "It would have been a lot of money for them."

The 1st hole was 460 yards, and Nick hit a drive, a three-wood and a seven-iron onto the green. "I remember the sprinklers were on, the old-fashioned ones—tsh, tsh, tsh," he says. "I didn't know the club rules, and I didn't think I was allowed on the green, so I picked my ball up."

The beginning of golf was the beginning of the end of Faldo's formal education. "I loved school, until golf came along," he says. "Then the only thing I was interested in was getting out of the gates as quick as possible and going to the golf course."

Family discussions at the dinner table over what Nick might do for a living grew serious when, just short of his 16th birthday, he said he wanted to quit school. "At school he did technical drawing and loved it," says George. "We knew someone who could have gotten him a job, but we ran up against a wall. 'I'm not going into an office,' he said. End of conversation. So we whittled away, and then he announced he wanted to be a golfer. We said, 'Well, how do you make a living at that?' "

The obvious way was to work as an assistant in a pro shop, a job that paid only four pounds (about $10) a week, a sum insignificant enough that his parents encouraged him instead to work on his game. So Nick was allowed to skip a tedious phase of the typical British pro's education. "That was probably the biggest break," says Faldo. "Sitting around in a shop I think would have killed me."

Every morning for the next two years, with his clubs strapped to a rack on the front of his bike, and his lunch, always cheese-and-pickle sandwiches and a chocolate biscuit, packed in a Tupperware bowl in a rucksack on his back, Faldo pedaled across the field behind his house and through the woods to the golf course. He would play until it was time to return for the evening meal. His hands bled, he wore out a glove a week, and he couldn't have been happier. He was an athlete who had finally found his game. "I loved the routine, even the same lunch every day," he says. "I'd get frustrated or tired but never bored. I was my own boss, and I controlled the routine."

Faldo's rise in the amateur ranks was as startling as Lyle's was predictable. Having first set foot on a golf course in July 1971, he was selected for the England Boys team in the summer of 1974. Lyle was one of his teammates. Faldo had made up the difference in their staggered start in barely three years.

In 1976, Lyle and Faldo were persuaded to try for golf scholarships at the University of Houston. "American golfers come out of American colleges, and America makes better players than anybody else" was the sales pitch. Lyle failed the qualifying exam and went home after three weeks. Faldo passed, but he left after 10 weeks. "I'm not too sure why it seemed like a good idea," says Lyle. "It just seemed to be the In thinking at that stage."

Faldo is less charitable. "It was a step backward," he says. "All of a sudden I had to go to school every morning and then head out to the golf course, which in Houston was 45 minutes away. You'd whiz around in a four-ball, and that was it. I never had time to practice, so I went to the coach and said, 'I don't want to play anymore. I need to go and practice. I haven't practiced for weeks.' So at the next team meeting he said [Faldo is a good mimic], 'Boys, there's been a complaint that you're not practicing. Let me tell you, the great golfers out there today are great players'.

"But I got my way. I practiced for three or four days and I played in a small tournament and I won it. Next meeting he says, "Boys, if you want to be a great player, ya gotta practice!' So I said, 'I'm going home,' and that was the end of that."

Soon after Faldo returned to England he turned professional. Lyle remained an amateur for another season in order to play in the Walker Cup. Then he, too, turned in his blazer and tie. In 1977 Faldo was Rookie of the Year on the European tour. In 1978 Lyle was Rookie of the Year. In 1979 Lyle was the leading money winner and Faldo won only a minor South African tournament. In 1980 Lyle was at the top of the money list again, and Faldo finished in fourth place.

So it went, measuring one another and being measured, always against each other. Faldo was first to win in the U.S., but Lyle was first to win the British Open. Then Faldo won the British, but Lyle won the Masters. Then Faldo won the Masters....

As inseparable in their time as Hogan and Snead or Nicklaus and Palmer were in theirs, Faldo and Lyle are like a pair of old vaudevillians. They feed each other lines and then, with a deft bit of business, like a seven-iron shot from a fairway bunker or a 25-foot putt in approaching darkness, one steals the spotlight from the other, but the show goes on. Even in this new golden age of golf, when all the world's a stage and other stars shine equally bright, theirs will be an act to remember.

PHOTOHEINZ KLUETMEIERTWO PHOTOSJACQUELINE DUVOISINLYLE WON THE BRITISH OPEN IN '85 (TOP LEFT), AND FALDO FOLLOWED IN '87 (TOP RIGHT). THE TWO WON BACK-TO-BACK MASTERS IN '88 AND '89PHOTOJOHN BIEVER[See caption above.]PHOTOHEINZ KLUETMEIER[See caption above.]PHOTOJACQUELINE DUVOISINBEFORE LYLE, JACKLIN WAS THE LAST BRIT TO WIN THE BRITISH OPENPHOTOTHE BETTMANN ARCHIVEBRITAIN'S LAST GREAT DUO WAS RAY (LEFT) AND VARDON, HERE IN 1913PHOTOTOBEY SANFORDALEX AND AGNES GAVE SANDY HIS FIRST CLUB WHEN HE WAS THREEPHOTOTOBEY SANFORDJOYCE AND GEORGE FALDO ENCOURAGED THEIR SON TO PLAY ALL SPORTSPHOTOIN 1974, LYLE (SEATED BEHIND TROPHY) AND FALDO (STANDING BEHIND LYLE) WERE BOTH CHOSEN FOR ENGLAND'S NATIONAL UNDER-18 TEAMPHOTOJAMES DRAKEFALDO'S APPROACH TO HIS GAME IS PRECISE, EVEN FROM SANDY LIES,...PHOTOJACQUELINE DUVOISIN...WHILE LYLE'S STYLE CAN BE DESCRIBED AS ROUGHLY THE OPPOSITEPHOTOTOBEY SANFORDLYLE STILL DOES ALEX'S WALL DRILL TO HELP KEEP HIS SWING UPRIGHTPHOTOTOBEY SANFORDEVER THE PERFECTIONIST, FALDO FINE-TUNES HIS CLUBS AT HOMEPHOTOTOBEY SANFORDWHEN NICK RELAXES WITH GILL, NATALIE AND BABY MATTHEW, HIS FAMED TEMPER ISN'T EVIDENTPHOTOTOBEY SANFORDLYLE HAS TURNED HIS FOOTWORK OVER TO HUURMAN, A FORMER MASSEUSE WHOM HE'LL SOON MARRY