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Faldo plays down McIlroy row

Sir Nick Faldo has downplayed suggestions of a row with Rory McIlroy, insisting he is the world number two's "big granddad".

Faldo began the build up to the Open Championship at Muirfield this week by suggesting McIlroy needed to "concentrate on golf, nothing else" to regain his lost form.

Two-time major winner McIlroy, 32 years Faldo's junior at 24, responded by saying that he was working hard, resulting in reports the pair were at loggerheads.

Faldo, who won six majors including two Opens at Muirfield, claimed that was far from the case.

"I'm friends with Rory - don't write it any other way," said Faldo after shooting an eight-over-par first-round 79, remarkably the same score as McIlroy.

"I've known him since he was 12. He's a big part of my Faldo Series. I'm like big granddad, here, saying exactly those things. Just give it your full attention when you want to play golf.

"When you want to disappear and have a family and do other things, but don't add anymore... get me? I'm trying to give him a little caring, loving help here."

McIlroy has been criticised for changing his equipment and for other off-course distractions.

Faldo, who was famously single-minded during his heyday, clarified a point he was trying to make that McIlroy should focus fully on his game while at the peak of his powers.

He said: "When you're a golfer, concentrate on your golf and then you have your charity. Just keep it minimal. I'm speaking from experience. Don't go off into the business world, because he's got tons of time for that.

"If you're going to retire somewhere in your 40s, who knows with 10 majors, you'll be a pretty darned good businessman for the next 50 years of your life. That's what I'm trying to say."

Faldo's round, which he played alongside fellow veterans Fred Couples and Tom Watson and featured just two birdies, was his first in competition for three years and came on his 56th birthday.

When asked if it was a happy birthday, he said: "Given my most minimal practice and preparation in the history of the Open, probably. But I was enjoying it. That view standing on the first tee with the crowd and the people in the stands and everything - I'll take that one as my shot of the day."

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