Faldo laughs off pairings gaffe

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The Independent Online

Nick Faldo found himself involved in 'sandwichgate' at the Ryder Cup today - after being caught on camera with an important-looking piece of paper.

Four months after two British government ministers were left red-faced after documents taken to a Downing Street briefing were photographed, Faldo found himself answering questions about whether some of his secrets were out two days before the start of the action at Valhalla.

The paper had pairings on them - Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood, then Padraig Harrington and Robert Karlsson.

Underneath them were the initials of Justin Rose, Ian Poulter, Graeme McDowell and Paul Casey, then on the next line Oliver Wilson, Soren Hansen and Miguel Angel Jimenez. Henrik Stenson's name was missing.

Faldo was on the course talking to players and holding the paper when he was alerted by his son Matthew: "Dad, they can see you."

When asked to explain, Faldo said: "It just had the lunch list. It had sandwich requests for the guys, just making sure who wants the tuna, what wants the beef, who wants the ham.

"So that's all it was, sandwich list."

When pressed on the matter, though, Faldo came up with a different answer.

"I haven't put numbers next to them yet, have I? We don't know what order they will go out, so some are safe," he contended.

"And that was on the seventh tee. If the photographer was on the 13th or 14th it all changed, so it's all different now."

Then came a question about the missing Stenson.

Faldo said: "He's on the other side of the piece of paper. The Swedes do it the other way around.

"No, it's tomorrow's pairings. Okay, I've been caught - I learned a lesson. You know the pairings and we are going to play foursomes on the front nine."

The match starts with foursomes on Friday morning and both captains have to hand in their line-ups at lunchtime tomorrow.

It would surprise no-one if Westwood and Garcia, successful partners from 2002 and 2004, were put out together - and put out first.

Harrington had been linked with Stenson and Casey, but Karlsson won in Germany last Sunday so that would be a powerful duo as well.

All will be revealed soon, however.

Meanwhile, American captain Paul Azinger has claimed: "I think they have got a couple of spies following us - and that's okay."

On that Faldo commented: "My spies are so secret I don't even know who my spies are.

"Actually I've got dozens watching them."

Azinger also said he has already decided his line-up for both the foursomes and afternoon fourballs.

Since the same three groups were sent out for practice together again today, the pairings are starting to emerge.

Kentucky pair Kenny Perry and JB Holmes played with Jim Furyk and Boo Weekley, Stewart Cink and Steve Stricker with Ben Curtis and Chad Campbell, then Phil Mickelson and Anthony Kim with Hunter Mahan and Justin Leonard.

Europe played fourballs and the partnerships then were Poulter and Rose, Stenson and Karlsson, Harrington and McDowell, Casey and Wilson, Garcia and Jimenez and Westwood and Hansen.

Because so long was spent on the course on Tuesday - nearly seven hours in some cases - both captains decided to go easier on their men, many of whom were happy with nine holes only.

There was also a photo which showed Stenson's initials under those of Harrington and Karlsson, as if he had been allocated one spot and Faldo was waiting to assign him a partner.

And on that one Casey's name was not there. Maybe it was just before he was put alongside Stenson.