Faldo ego left Europe's Cup empty

Captain's failure to inspire players and strange backroom team set course for discourse and Ryder rout

Nick Faldo was held culpable for many things which went wrong at Valhalla Golf Club last weekend, but he could not be blamed for this pairing. There stood the second best golfer in the world criticising the 13th best for continually taking air shots. Unless Phil Mickelson was very much mistaken, Lee Westwood had clearlyhad a few. The area of combat was the ping-pong table in the American team room, and the time of combat was just past sing-song.

"It was me and Phil against Sergio [Garcia] and Oliver Wilson, and Phil kept getting annoyed with me for missing," admitted Westwood. "But I could see three balls and I kept hitting the wrong one. After that, I think their bar shut so we had to go down to ours. There were still plenty of us when the sun came up. Boo [Weekley] was there, obviously, but there was also Jim [Furyk] and Justin [Leonard] up on chairs, with us calling them names. That's how the Ryder Cup should end, really."

Of course, such a morning after the fight before is unique in a sports event of this magnitude; but then the Ryder Cup is unique. On one hand it possesses the feel of a "goodwill" match, and on the other it can stir all the vitriol of top-flight football. This uneasy alliance of the fun and the world-shatteringly serious is undoubt-edly the reason for the absurdly mixed reaction of the past six days.

While Faldo has been given the treatment in the British press, the Americans – not to mention a coupleof Britain's more cerebral commentators – have looked on in horror and mouthed their disgust. Their objections to the Faldo-bashers seem to be based around the paucity of points garnered by Westwood, Garcia and Padraig Harrington, the ignoredcloseness of the competition and the British media having a few old scores to settle.

While conceding that there has been a degree of "payback" in the Captain Cock-up hysteria, it has only been a small degree. The defence of Faldo can only rest on the well-worn argument that "it's the player who hit the shots", but if that is strong enough to stand alone then why has Paul Azinger been praised so strongly? Azinger's assistant seems to know why. "Two pretty even teams, two pretty uneven captains," said Dave Stockton. "You can't imagine all the thought that Paul put into it."

The inference here was plainly of Faldo's lack of thought. It has been generally accepted that if Faldo was outthought by Azinger – which he clearly was – then it was in the months and weeks before Valhalla. While Captain America clearly knew everything about his men, Faldo just as apparentlyknew all too little about his. Have a listen to Westwood's agent, Andrew Chandler. "With Lee two up after nine holes of Friday afternoon's fourballs, who on earth thought it would be a good idea to tell him that he was going to be left out of the following morning foursomes? Unbelievable," he said.

"I'm sure Lee was completely deflated, particularly since he was told during his 27th consecutive match. I'm sure it also affected his concentration while hitting his confidence levels for the next two days.

"A captain really has to understand what makes players tick, but unfortunately Nick Faldo did not see this as a prerequisite for the job. He didn't do anything in the build-up to discover how his best players perform and under what circumstances they perform best. Unfortunately the Ryder Cup turned out to be all about Nick Faldo."

The team-room walls certainly backed up Chandler is this regard, as they were dominated by pictures of Faldo in the pomp of his career. Perhaps the idea behind this was to instil a feeling of awe in the players regarding their captain, but that was not wise, as awe never has sold too well to multi-millionaires. In a game that is decidedby fractions it is too easy to say that the players should perform to their best whatever the conditions, and Faldo himself recognised this. In the run-up he told The Independent On Sunday: "It's all about making sure the players have everything around them they need to go out and perform."

Yet now, as he has heard the stories of Westwood beating fatigue at the British Masters (the defending champion held the lead going into yesterday's fog-delayed third round) and as he has watched Garcia do the same at the Tour Championship (last night the Spaniard was restaging his singles battle with Anthony Kim as the pair went out in the final grouping in Atlanta), Faldo must surely have the slightest twinge suggesting he failed to extract the best out of his stars.

So why no complaints made in public from within? Because of some sense of loyalty, most probably, or because of the fear of being labelled a whinger or a tell-tale. But one needs only to scratch the surface to write off a lot of the compliments as a sham. Whispers have emerged of rows between Faldo and players, of one player even talking about quitting the camp, and of widespread disillusionment as to the make-up of the backroom.

"While America had Ray Floyd and Dave Stockton and Olin Browne whipping around on buggies, we had DJ Spoony and Faldo's 16-year-old son," was how one Ryder Cup player put it. That just about sums it up. As Chandler says, it was all about Faldo, and that means the inquest was inevitably going to be all about Faldo, too.

Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Voices
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Sport
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
football
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Graham Norton said Irish broadcaster RTE’s decision to settle was ‘moronic’
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths
Life and Style
life
Sport
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
News
Amazon misled consumers about subscription fees, the ASA has ruled
news
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn