Faldo hopes dashed
NICK FALDO S hopes of a final victory to his golfing career as captain of the European Ryder Cup team were dashed as the American team swept to a decisive 16. to 11. success at Valhalla Golf Club in Kentucky on Sunday. It was the first American success in
NICK FALDO'S hopes of a final victory to his golfing career as captain of the European Ryder Cup team were dashed as the American team swept to a decisive 161/2 to 111/2 success at Valhalla Golf Club in Kentucky on Sunday.
It was the first American success in this 37th biennial match after three consecutive defeats sine 1999 and there was no doubting that it was well deserved. Yet, Faldo and the team will think back to what might have been if they hadn't faltered on the first day.
To trail by the margin of 51/2 to 21/2 left them with it all to do, and even some recovery on the second day still left them catching up, two points adrift. In two matches on that first day, leads of three holes were lost to eventual defeats and a resurgent American team took full advantage.
Afterwards Faldo admitted: "They were just a little bit better. Losing always hurts, but I still say this is the best week of my golfing life, inside or outside the ropes. The golf was fantastic, the shot-making and putting unbelievable."
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A captain's role is not always a happy one, as Faldo found out, but he can be bolstered by the success of his much criticised decision to name his Herts colleague Ian Poulter as one of his 'picks' for the match. For if golf followed football and named the man of the match it would undoubtedly go to the Hitchin-born player.
In all five matches he played he was outstanding, his whole attitude showing his determination to beat the opposition. And he succeeded, finishing top individual points scorer with four, the best of the Americans being 21/2.
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Poulter and his pal Justin Rose were a formidable combination - while they were one of the teams to lose a three-hole lead in the first day foursomes, it needed a birdie finish at the 18th to deny them a half. The second day it was victory all the way. They shocked Stewart Cink and Chad Campbell in the foursomes, moving five ahead after seven holes and at a vital stage Poulter halted a US fightback by holing from 8ft at the 14th to finish 4&2 winners.
In the afternoon fourballs, Faldo paired Poulter with Graeme McDowell and in a tight match they were never more than two ahead of Jim Furyk and Kenny Perry, and it was down to one with four to play, Poulter matching Furyk's birdie on the 17th and holding on for a one hole win.
With the Americans ahead 9-7 into the final day's singles, both Poulter and Rose played their part in Europe's brave but unsuccessful bid to hold on to Samuel Ryder's trophy, Rose, with six birdies, beating Phil Mickelson 3&2 and Poulter, starting with three birdies in the first four holes and adding three more, closing out Steve Stricker 3&2.
With this performance by Poulter to follow second place in the Open Championship at Royal Birkdale in July, few can doubt that the Herts youngster who went from school into a pro's shop and never played county golf now has the game and the talent to one day follow Faldo as Open champion.
Summing up the week Faldo said: "Twenty four guys have given their hearts and souls and Europe has come up short. The team, the whole atmosphere, the camaraderie, the fun we had, a little bit of everything, and it's just been a fabulous time in my life.
"One of my goals was to leave here on Sunday night knowing I did my best for the team and I'm more than comfortable with how everything has panned out."
While it was sad for the European players and the fans to see the Ryder Cup handed over to American captain Paul Azinger, Nick Faldo responded: "We live to fight another day."
Faldo had the off-course backing of his parents George and Joyce, his wife Valerie and three children, Natalie, Matthew and Georgia.
Ken Brown, a five times Ryder Cup player, on BBC commentating duty, was accompanied by his wife Dawn.