Golf: Woosnam sours Ryder success by criticising Ballesteros

The euphoria which surrounded European golf's thrilling Ryder Cup triumph was somewhat punctured yesterday when Ian Woosnam broke ranks to reveal that he had not enjoyed the tournament and launched a scathing attack on Seve Ballesteros's style of captaincy.

Victory apart, Ian Woosnam did not exactly enjoy his eighth Ryder Cup. The reason, he firmly believes, was Seve Ballesteros's style of captaincy, as he revealed in no uncertain terms yesterday when he became the first team member to sour the success with critical comments.

Clearly from the school that believes that if you don't like the way something is done, do it yourself, Woosnam has thrown his hat in the ring to take over from the Spaniard as captain for the next match in 1999.

Ballesteros did not overuse Woosnam at Valderrama, but the Welshman does not know why. The 39-year-old has the best fourball record in the history of the event, with 10 wins in 14 outings, but he played only once, winning with Thomas Bjorn, before the singles, where he collapsed to Fred Couples 8 and 7.

Woosnam, who today faces Jesper Parnevik in the first round of the World Match Play Championship here, is still far from a state of gruntlement. Bristling, more like it.

"I have been part of the Ryder Cup team many times and I didn't particularly enjoy it this time," he said. "I was on a high after we won and I felt very pleased for the lads who had not played before. But I had been there before. It was just another one for me. Just a memory.

"I would just like to have had a reason why I didn't play more. Seve did not talk to me about it, not even on the Sunday night. If he had said to me I am not playing well, or asked what my feelings were I would have felt a bit happier about it."

Not being told he was not playing was what upset Woosnam most. "It wasn't just me," he said. "Everybody was in the same boat. Seve had his own way of doing it."

When Ballesteros had said his players could find out on television who was playing, it was not a joke, apparently. "That was right. At the end of the day it worked, yeah," Woosnam sighed.

"If I was captain, I would be more in touch with my players. I would be wanting to feel how they were feeling. Give them the opportunity if they weren't playing well to say, `I am not playing that well'. In all the Ryder Cups I played before, there has been communication. I just didn't feel there was any this time."

A decision on who takes over from Ballesteros, who stated immediately after the match at Valderrama that he wanted to return to the ranks, may be deferred until the qualifying for the 1999 match starts next September.

"I will have to see how I go, but I would love to be captain," Woosnam said. "It would be something great to do."

Ballesteros, who is playing with Jose Maria Olazabal in the Open Novotel Perrier Four-ball in Bordeaux this week, did not agree with Woosnam. He said: "I think I was a good captain. I talked to the players a lot and asked them their opinions, though I always had the final decision. I did what I thought was best for the team. I gave them 100 per cent."

The view of at least one other player immediately after the event was at odds with Woosnam's. Antonio Garrido, a compatriot of Ballesteros who was playing in his first Ryder Cup, said: "He was not a captain, he was like a father for us. We put our hands on the clubs but he was the one who played the shots."

Woosnam, who won the Volvo PGA on the same course here in May, has been World Match Play champion twice but his chance of calling the shots this time is diminished by the prospect of facing the three-time defending champion Ernie Els, who awaits the winner of Woosnam's match against Parnevik in Friday's second round.

The South African is on a nine-game winning streak in the competition and the saturated course should suit the powerful 27-year-old even more than usual. He is also fresh from a five-week break.

"Wentworth has been good to me in the past," Els said. "I've got no idea why. I enjoy the golf course and, in matchplay, I just go out to beat the other guy."

The 36-hole format helps, especially when you can overturn a six-hole deficit at lunchtime, as Els did against Steve Stricker last year.

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