Faldo's hopes dashed as Americans win Ryder Cup
PUBLISHED: 19:21 22 September 2008 | UPDATED: 22:27 26 October 2009
NICK Faldo s hopes of a final victory to his golfing career as captain of the European Ryder Cup team were dashed on Sunday, writes Alan Booth. The American team swept to a decisive 16. to 11. success at Valhalla Golf Club in Kentucky. It was the first
NICK Faldo's hopes of a final victory to his golfing career as captain of the European Ryder Cup team were dashed on Sunday, writes Alan Booth.
The American team swept to a decisive 161/2 to 111/2 success at Valhalla Golf Club in Kentucky.
It was the first American success in this 37th biennial match after three consecutive defeats since 1999, and there was no doubting that it was well deserved.
Yet, former WGC club champion 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 entering the singles.
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.
"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."
Among the outstanding European players, Faldo's Herts colleague Ian Poulter stood out.
He more than justified Faldo's confidence in him after naming him as one of his 'picks' for the team.
Poulter and Justin Rose were a terrific combination.
They were one of the teams to lose a three-holes lead on the first day, but it needed a birdie to beat them on the final hole.
The second day there no slip-ups. First, the pair shocked Stewart Cink and Chad Campbell in the morning foursomes.
They moved five ahead after seven holes, and when the Americans hit back to be only two down after 13 holes, Poulter holed from 8ft to win the hole at a critical stage and they went on to win by 4&2.
"Our friendship makes us playing the Ryder Cup together pretty special," said Rose, who was making his first competition appearance.
In the afternoon fourballs, Faldo paired Poulter with Graeme McDowell.
Poulter birdied the first for the lead against Jim Furyk, but in a tight match they were never more than two ahead.
And it was down to one with four to play, Poulter matching Furyk's birdie on the 17th and par on the 18th to give them a one-hole win.
They shot a better ball score of 31-31 on the par 71 course.
With a 9-7 deficit into the final day, individual victories by the Herts player and his pal were outstanding - Rose having six birdies as he beat Phil Mickelson 3&2, and Poulter starting with three birdies in the first four holes, and adding three more to close out Steve Stricker 3&2.
While it was sad to see Sam Ryder's famous trophy handed over to American captain Paul Azinger, Faldo responded: "We live to fight another day."
Faldo had the off-course backing of his parents, George and Joyce from WGC, his ex-wife Valerie and three children, Natalie, Matthew and Georgia.
Ken Brown, a five-time Ryder Cup player, on BBC commentating duty, was accompanied by his wife Dawn.