Golf: Faldo resists lure of World Cup: World No 1 plays today but injury forces withdrawal from next week's tournament

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The Independent Online
NICK FALDO completed a neat U-turn yesterday when he announced his withdrawal from the England team (of two) for the World Cup. Much had been made of the inclusion of the world No 1 in the tournament, which will be held at Lake Nona, Florida next week. Faldo has tendinitis in both arms but the condition has not stopped him from competing in the Volvo Masters which, weather permitting, starts here today.

Faldo is No 1 in the European Order of Merit with pounds 467,713 and there is plenty of incentive to play here. The field is limited to 54 players and there is pounds 1.2m in prize-money. Should Faldo win he would collect a quarter of a million: pounds 125,000 first prize and a bonus of another pounds 125,000 for finishing top of the Merit table. 'I want to be here to fend off any challengers,' he said.

A week is a long time in golf. Heineken, the sponsors of the World Cup, issued a press release a few days ago which quoted Faldo as saying: 'It's high time we got the name England engraved on the huge World Cup of Golf by Heineken trophy. I must say it seems strange that England has never won the cup.

'It's also a little strange that I've only played in it twice before, but it has never quite fitted into my schedule. The championship has been given a fresh lease of life by Heineken. The World Cup has a great history, with almost everyone who has been anyone in golf having played in it.'

So there we have it. Or not, as the case may be. Faldo said that he thought about withdrawing from the World Cup - his partner was Mark James, who will now play with David Gilford - while he was competing in the World Match Play at Wentworth two weeks ago. He says he has 'tennis elbow' in one arm and 'golf wrist' in the other. 'I'd like to clear it up as quickly as possible,' he added.

He decided to rest next week after consulting his physiotherapist. 'It's a precautionary thing,' Faldo said. The withdrawal is a blow for Heineken. Faldo intends to play in the dollars 1m challenge in Sun City, South Africa, and the Johnnie Walker World Championship, both of which are in December. He will be in Florida the week after the World Cup making a video about how to play golf.

Meanwhile, the rain in Spain, which caused the Madrid Open to go to a fifth day on Monday, washed out the pro-am here yesterday (guest players were invited from all over the world) and it is threatening the championship. The forecast is not good. Seve Ballesteros had the right idea. He withdrew from the Volvo Masters on Tuesday, citing a recurrence of back trouble. The silly season is in full swing.

Although Faldo is top of the money list, his year is unrequited. Second in the Open Championship and third in the US PGA was the nearest he came to a major title and it is on the basis of the big ones that, by and large, he judges success and failure. 'Disappointing results,' he said. 'I hope to take it up a step by next spring.'

If Faldo is disappointed, where does that leave Ballesteros? The Spaniard is 39th in the Order of Merit and will have to climb 39 steps next year to get back to the position to which he is accustomed.

'Once his golf comes back he'll be OK mentally,' Faldo said. 'Seve's doing the right thing . . . disappearing and having a nice rest. He's a feel player who's lost his feel.'

There is speculation that Ballesteros will get off his backside this weekend to endorse the course at Novo Sancti Petri in Cadiz as a contender to stage the Ryder Cup. Ballesteros designed the course. The Ryder Cup will be held in Spain in 1997 and the leaders in the clubhouse are Valderrama, the pet project of Jaime Ortiz-Patino, a Bolivian billionaire, and Las Brisas in Marbella.

The war on the shore between the two clubs has already started. Antonio de Fortuny, president of Las Brisas, said: 'The Ryder Cup is not something that should be bought with a cheque-book.' Ortiz-Patino's response has been, effectively, to sever diplomatic relations with his near neighbour on the Costa del Sol. The captain of Las Brisas no longer enjoys the courtesy of Valderrama and the annual match between the clubs is in abeyance. The situation is complicated by the fact that Ortiz-Patino, the master at Valderrama, is also a member of Las Brisas.