Second-round 64 gives Faldo lead by three strokes 2-time British champ is 12-under par


GULLANE, Scotland -- Nick Faldo said that he was in a comfort zone yesterday in the second round of the 121st British Open at the Muirfield course.

He was so comfortable that he shot a 7-under-par 64 for a 36-hole score of 130, 12-under par, and given his track record, he might run away with the Open.

"I felt so comfortable over everything, no matter what club I had in my hand," he said. "It was a lovely feeling."

Faldo has been the dominant player in recent years, based on his record in major events.

He won the British Open here in 1987, the Masters in 1989 and 1990, then the British Open again in 1990.

Even though 36-hole results aren't decisive, Faldo is clearly in control.

He has a three-stroke lead over John Cook and Scotland's

Gordon Brand Jr.

Steve Pate and Raymond Floyd, the co-leaders at 64 after the first round, fell back. Pate shot a 1-under-par 70 and is four strokes behind Faldo. Floyd had a 71 and is five shots behind the leader.

After Faldo bogeyed the seventh hole yesterday, he was 1-under par for his round and 6-under for the tournament.

He was still 6-under when he approached the par-5, 504-yard ninth hole.

"On nine, I hit one of the best 3-woods of my career," Faldo said. "I drove the ball just off the fairway, and then I hit a low, drawing thing and it came off like a rocket."

Faldo estimated that he had 228 yards to the front of the green, and his 3-wood shot wound up 4 feet from the cup, where he made his eagle putt.

"That got me going," he said. "I looked at the board and I was eight [under par] now and Steve Pate was 10 and I kept hitting good shots."

So good that he birdied four of the next six holes, three coming on putts from 15 to 20 feet.

"I felt so good inside. Let's just keep rolling on and see what happens," Faldo said of his mind-set at the time.

Not only did Faldo, who turns 35 today, charge into the lead, he also set an Open record for 36 holes. His score of 130 broke by two shots the record he shared with Henry Cotton (1934) and Greg Norman (1990).

Faldo said that when the tournament began that his game was in good shape, and he has proved it with opening rounds of 66 and 64.

He said that he was enjoying the gallery, and they were obviously enjoying him.

As for his comfort zone, he said: "Considering the circumstances, it was a unique feeling. Every shot in an Open, or a major, is marked more in history than a normal tournament."

After a relatively calm day in the opening round, the wind kicked up yesterday, making club selection a guessing game at times.

Faldo has been known as a perfectionist.

"Striving for the best is what we should all strive for in every walk of life, and I'm committing myself to that," he said. "Before, I was too hard on myself and could not do it. I learned this winter not to be hard on myself, realizing you're going to hit some bad shots."

Pate was 10-under par for the tournament through 12 holes, but he bogeyed the next two holes, then got a birdie at 15, only to bogey the 18th.

Cook shot a 67.

Cook, 34, has won two PGA Tour events this year, the Bob Hope Classic and the Hawaiian Open.

However, he is surprised that he is contending after missing the cut last week at Williamsburg, Va.

"If last week was any indication that I would be nine under in the Open championship, I would have said you were crazy," Cook said.

His British Open experience is limited to the 1980 tournament at Muirfield. He shot 75-75 and missed the cut.

Floyd, 49, who is striving to become the fifth player to win all four majors, wasn't overly disappointed with his round.

"I hit 15 greens and played very well," he said. "I just didn't make any putts."

Donnie Hammond of Frederick shot a 65 to pull within five shots of the lead.

British Open


The leader . . .

Nick Faldo 66-64-130

. . . and selected followers

John Cook 66-67-133

Gordon Brand Jr. 65-68-133

John Cook 66-67-133

Steve Pate 64-70-134

Raymond Floyd 64-71-135

Donnie Hammond 70-65-135

Jose-Maria Olazabal 70-67-137

Sandy Lyle 68-70-138

Ian Woosnam 65-73-138

Paul Azinger 70-69-139

Tom Kite 70-69-139

Fred Funk 71-71-142

Seve Ballesteros 70-75-145

Tom Watson 73-75-148

Jack Nicklaus 75-73-148

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