Monday, 22 September 2008

Faldo's Ryder Cup Video Highlights, or perhaps that's Lowlights

A lot has been made of Nick Faldo's performances at the Ryder Cup which drew derision and hate-filled rhetoric from pressmen he had ticked off during the years. Some of them were amusing though and worth looking back on.

Faldo was flying off with the European based players for Valhalla with some dude called "Patrick Harrington" apparently. I mean seriously, why do news channels seem to exclusively pick news people who haven't a baldy clue what they're talking about to do these snippets. I know Padraig's name has been a real trouble for commentators since he came on the scene, "Pad-rag" being my favourite attempt at the pronunciation, but this guy decides to just change his name to get through an assignment he clearly wasn't cut out for. Just don't bloody mention him, say he's got the Open Champion with him. As my dear old dad used to say, "Better to say nothing and be thought a fool, than open your mouth and remove all doubt." A bit of sage advice that would have served Faldo well as the week progressed... Faldo was clearly already thinking about resting players here but confident he had the players at his disposal to do the job. We're reminded that Hurricane Ike had just passed through Kentucky causing damage, Faldo himself about to fly into a hurricane of media vitriol, in the British press at least...

Sandwichgate, has there ever been such a furore over something so inconsequential? Was any American player any more likely to win because they knew what a few of the pairings were going to be? I don't reckon so, but then Faldo had to go and turn it into something to really kick him with. Fancying himself as a real comedian, he was cracking jokes all week to a crowd of hacks in no mood to laugh at him, busy as they were sharpening pencils with which to stab him with. His attempt to laugh off the snaps of his team line-up by pretending they were sandwich orders becomes ever more excruciating as it goes on, with not a murmur of a chuckle in response. To review it in the parlance of the comedian "He died on his arse". Eventually he had to snap an admission at the reporters, "They are tomorrow's (Friday) pairings,. OK, I've been caught out. We are going to play foursomes on the front nine. I've learnt a lesson." And they had the cheek to call him the worst captain ever - Bernard Langer never gave them stuff like this to write about.

Faldo was then left looking like the occasion might be getting to him as he got all emotional over the team's meeting with "The Greatest", Muhammad Ali. It fuelled the fire that was circling the Captain that he might just be on the verge of losing it, other more cynical reporters accusing him of crocodile tears. Either way, they used it to pen yet more articles which laid into his fitness to lead. Poor Nick, they hadn't even had that disastrous first day yet.

The there was the Opening Ceremony speech, which appeared to have been co-written by Prince Philip.

I couldn't find clips of the interviews that Faldo gave to the BBC in between the sessions but he didn't really say much in them. His ability to form complete sentences deserted him, they amounted to incoherent babblings. Seemingly very nervous of saying anything on the resting of Westwood, despite the fact Europe had just won the session, he blurted out something of how Sergio asked to be rested after feeling shot after only the first session on Thursday. When pressed on Westwood he point blank refused to say anything on it and started gushing on about how great "Ollie" Olazabal was and how the days of players playing five matches were over (Ian Poulter anyone?) and how he was prepared to take the flak for anything. It was a pattern repeated until the Cup was decided, when the weight of pressure on him was finally lifted.

Apart from that little bit on what he would do with the stock market, Faldo seemed to be back to his old self. At least a bit more assured and with his sentence construction returning to him, he was gracious enough in defeat, still proud of his team, standing behind his decisions but bemoaning the "fractions" which cost them the match. Actually, he wasn't very gracious there at all, he didn't mention the americans good play nor congratulate them but he has since.
A few niggly things, what an understatement...

It's all too easy to say he was a bad captain, but he had a tougher task that any of the guys who won recently. Easy wins came against divided American teams with no backbone or will to win. They had Sergio and Westwood in record breaking form and an imperious Monty leading the way. All Faldo could do was pick them and send them out, he couldn't make them win and that's what it comes down to, the players performing, which Harrington, Garcia and Westwood in particular, failed to do.

In one respect he was awful, the worst PR of any Captain in history, but that doesn't mean he was the worst Captain ever. That's Hal Sutton...

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