European Sportswriters Go After Faldo

imageGolf is not life. It’s WAY more serious than that.

Writers from across Europe apparently are pushing Nick Faldo under the bus for the European Ryder Cup loss. One newspaper called him “Captain Calamity.” The Times of London said that while Azinger inspired his players, Faldo “inspired chaos.” The Daily Mail wrote “Nick Faldo, not the crowd, was America’s 13th Man.”

John Huggan, a golf writer for several publications, including The Scotsman and Golfworld has gone after Nick Faldo for the European Ryder Cup loss.

In GolfWorld, he writes:

In contrast to the cold-blooded silent assassin (and record Ryder Cup points-scorer) that was Faldo the player, his erratic and emotional job as captain was jarring even to British eyes and ears used to the six-time major champion’s legendary level of self-absorption. Beyond a succession of head-scratching tactical decisions during the matches themselves, Faldo perpetrated any number of faux pas during his week-long stay in Kentucky.

The low moment, among many from a man once described by his second wife, Gill, as “a 24-handicapper socially,” was his speech during the opening ceremony. In an embarrassing ramble through seemingly every member of his family, the history of Ireland and a series of accents Inspector Clouseau would have rejected as too unlikely, Faldo perplexed the vast majority of his audience.

Introducing Padraig Harrington, Faldo was moved to stereotypically comment that the British Open and PGA champion had “hit more balls than potatoes have been planted in Ireland.” Introducing Ulsterman Graeme McDowell, Faldo asked, “Do you come from Ireland or Northern Ireland?” Not too long ago, bad men were killing each other over similar queries. And let’s not even get into his intro of Søren Hansen as “Søren Stenson.”

A similarly scathing retort is found in his Scotsman article:

EVER PERVERSE, Nick Faldo did exactly what we should have expected of him when he named Paul Casey and, more particularly, Ian Poulter as his two finishing touches to this year’s European Ryder Cup side. Faldo’s oversized ego was never going to be comfortable choosing someone with Darren Clarke’s strength of character. Nor, for similar reasons, did he shed any significant tears over not picking the dreadfully off-form Colin Montgomerie.
“Faldo clearly didn’t want anyone in the team room with the potential to rock his boat,” points out one former Ryder Cup player who prefers to remain anonymous. “The 2004 Ryder Cup was all about Monty and his divorce; 2006 at the K Club was all about Darren and the tragic death of his wife; Nick wants Valhalla to be all about him.”

Harsh words, but even a cursory review of Faldo’s career reveals the extraordinary level of self-absorption that made the six-time major champion one of the most unpopular players of his or any other generation. It is perfectly logical that he prefers to be surrounded by those too young to remember any of the many and various slights felt by his direct contemporaries. As is his reluctance to add a second vice-captain alongside Jose Maria Olazabal. As ever, it’s Nick’s way or the highway.

Matt Dickinson of The Times Online writes:

The biggest surprise, as it turns out, is not that Nick Faldo made the bad call going into the final day of the Ryder Cup but that he did not make the call at all. As the players spoke before scattering across Europe, it emerged that Faldo had played only a supervising role in drawing up the singles running order. “We pretty much chose where we wanted to play,” Ian Poulter said. In admitting so, he thought that he was doing his captain a favour.

As an insight into Faldo’s leadership, that revelation has to be regarded as alarming, even by those who believe that the Europe captain has been flogged too harshly for losing the Ryder Cup to the United States. There we were marking Faldo down as a man who wanted to micro-manage this team to victory when the reality was that he sat in the Brown Hotel in Louisville allowing his players to dictate strategy, like Sven-Göran Eriksson in his last days as England head coach. How old-fashioned of us to think that selection was the captain’s business.

I really think that these criticisms are out of line. While Faldo probably did make a tactical mistake in not leading with his best on Sunday, he can’t be blamed for the fact that the core of his team simply was outplayed. His pick of Ian Poulter—much derided before the tournament—turned out to be genius. Garcia—the vaunted Ryder Cup giant-slayer—simply fizzled. So did Harrington. (To be fair, both of these apparently had health issues.)

And as for Faldo’s lack of social graces … well, everyone knew what they were getting. You can’t pick a guy with such a strong personality and then expect him to change. This is, after all, the guy whose ex-wife described him as a “24-handicapper” socially.

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2 thoughts on “European Sportswriters Go After Faldo”

  1. They are pretty good at finger-pointing over there. Canada has been trying to get finger-pointing in the Olympics in time for Vancouver 2010 for awhile now.

    Nick was a driven athlete. Never known for small talk. His focus left him seeking solitude. Woody Austin is driven with a temper. Throws clubs and curses. Damages his own head. Tiger is driven, and with a temper. Throws clubs. Curses in front of kids. Spits. The media hammer Nick for his ambition and Woody for his temper. The media love Tiger for both.

    Go figure.


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