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Nick Faldo wants Europeans to step up to Major level

Nick Faldo, elected last week as Europe's Ryder Cup skipper for 2008, says it is time the continent's best players began challenging for a major.

The last European to win one of golf's four annual grand slam events was Britain's Paul Lawrie, in the 1999 British Open at Carnoustie after a playoff.

"That is something that worries me," six-times major winner Faldo wrote in a column for the April issue of Golf World magazine.

"We have some great talent coming through, but how many have been up on a major leaderboard when it really matters?

"Winning majors is about holding your nerve under the most intense pressure. I know we can point to players for whom it just hasn't happened but I don't believe that's down to luck."

Faldo, winner of three U.S. Masters and three British Opens between 1987 and 1996 and widely regarded as Britain's greatest player, singled out seven-times European number one Colin Montgomerie.

"Monty has often been saddled with the label 'best player not to have won a major' but I remember him saying to me that he didn't feel the majors were that important, how he'd rather be on a winning Ryder Cup team," he said.

"Well he's achieved that. The point is you do start to believe your own press?"

Europe have thrived in the team cauldron of the Ryder Cup, winning six of the last 10 matches against the United States. Faldo, however, believes this is irrelevant when it comes to the cut-and-thrust of a major.

"I don't care how much we keep on talking about the amount of pressure players are under in a Ryder Cup," said the 47-year-old Englishman. "The fact is that if it isn't a major then it's not 'the real thing'.

"The Ryder Cup is matchplay. You can make seven on a hole and still win. You have 11 other guys holding your hand. In a major, you are on your own.

"A lot of 'our boys' performed brilliantly under the gun at Oakland Hills last year but put them in contention on the back nine of a major on Sunday and they'd find it a totally different experience."

Europe, captained last year by Bernhard Langer, completed a record victory over the U.S. by 18-1/2 points to 9-1/2.

"But let's not get too negative," added Faldo, who will lead Europe at the 2008 Ryder Cup in Louisville, Kentucky.

"Last season, Justin Rose led the Masters after 36 holes and Paul Casey was in front at the (British) Open," he said. "They just need to take their game to the next level.

"Of all the British talent out there right now, I feel Luke Donald is mentally the most complete.

"He has the self-belief and the confidence, he is technically very good and, while he might not be hugely long, he has a great wedge game that reminds me of Tom Kite."

American Kite won the 1992 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach and 18 other titles in a lucrative PGA Tour career.

 

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