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Was Nick Faldo really joking when he said he openly roots against Tiger Woods and anyone trying to break his records?

April 23, 2015

On Wednesday, Nick Faldo attended a fundraiser in Ohio with Jack Nicklaus. This shouldn't have been newsworthy, but comments the six-time major champ made in regard to rooting against a couple of today's stars drew plenty of attention.

According to the Columbus Dispatch, this is what happened when Nicklaus was asked about Tiger Woods chasing his record of 18 majors.

Nicklaus: "I've had Tiger chasing me for a long time. But, you know, I don't ever, I don't actually sit there and root for him. But I don't root against him, either."

Faldo: "Oh, I do."

Ouch. Then Faldo talked about rooting against Spieth during the Masters when he had a chance to shoot the low round and low 36-hole score at a major championship:

"I was sitting up there dodging bullets from this young man," Faldo said. "Day one, he's in the middle of the 15th fairway at 8 under par, and my fellow announcers were all, 'Wouldn't it be nice if he shoots a 62?' And I'm thinking, Jack and I are both in the 63 club; that's the best round in any major.

"So I'm sitting in my (tower) at 18, saying, 'No, it wouldn't be nice.' He takes that 4-wood out, and I know it's the wrong club and I'm going, 'Hit it! Hit it! Hit it!' And he did, and he hits it over the green and three putts (for bogey), so that was that."

The next day, Faldo said he let out a "Yes!" when Spieth missed a 6-foot putt at No. 18 that would have broken the record for lowest 36-hole score (130) in major championship history; instead, he now shares the record with three other golfers, one of whom is Faldo.

Was Faldo being honest or was it all in jest? On Thursday, Jack Nicklaus took to Twitter to lobby for the latter.

"Nick Faldo was obviously making a joke with his comments about Jordan yesterday, and everyone at the function, including me, took it that way. We were entertaining an audience at a fundraiser, and Nick's comment was said purely in jest. Nick made it clear he has a tremendous amount of respect for Jordan as a person and a champion."

Faldo retweeted Nicklaus' comments and added, "Thanks, Jack. #PlentyofRespect

We're sure Faldo respects Spieth, how could anyone not? But that seems like a lot of effort to make a joke. And his relationship with Woods has always been a bit chilly. For instance, there's this tweet from Wednesday that clearly takes a jab, albeit small, at Tiger:

Players, like fans, should be allowed to root for and against whomever they choose -- just not from the booth. As the most-watched golf analyst on network TV, Faldo is expected to be unbiased in his coverage. Clearly, Faldo seemed to be joking in this case (at least, for the most part), but he'll probably be more careful the next time he addresses the topic.