Tony Jacklin comes to Nick Faldo's defence
While European Ryder Cup captain Nick Faldo has been widely criticised for some of his decisions at Valhalla Golf Club, he has been strongly backed by one of his predecessors Tony Jacklin.
“I don’t think he did anything wrong,” Jacklin told Reuters on Monday less than 24 hours after Europe had suffered their first Cup defeat in nine years with a 16-1/2 to 11-1/2 loss to the United States.
“I think the Ryder Cup was a very successful event and it is in very good shape after what happened at Valhalla. The best team won and Paul Azinger turned out to be a very good captain.
“You always feel sorry for the team who lose. They played so well and came up empty. It just didn’t work out for Europe. By and large, though, I thought Faldo did fine.”
Going into the last-day singles matches, Europe trailed the Americans 9-7 and Faldo was taken to task over his decision to send out his big guns at the bottom of the order.
Cup veterans Lee Westwood and Padraig Harrington lost their respective encounters long after the U.S had clinched the trophy for the first time since their Brookline win in 1999.
“I looked at the singles line-up yesterday and I could see a European victory in the morning,” said Jacklin, who led Europe to two Ryder Cup victories and a tie in his four spells.
“I thought it lined up very well for Europe but young Anthony Kim never let (Sergio) Garcia into that first game and basically Europe didn’t win enough of those first matches to allow the anchors to do what they might have done.”
American rookie Kim crushed Garcia 5&4 in the top match to set the tone for the home team on the final day.
“Westwood really didn’t come up with as many points as expected and Padraig looked like he struggled all week,” Jacklin, 64, said. “There is risk in any way you put these out but I was very comfortable with the singles order.”
Faldo was also criticised for overlooking Cup stalwarts Darren Clarke and Colin Montgomerie as his two wildcard picks, opting instead for Ian Poulter and Paul Casey.
“I was with him (Faldo) at Wentworth two days before he made his captain’s picks and he was comfortable with his picks,” said Jacklin.
“If he needed vindication with regard to Ian Poulter, he certainly got it because Poulter was man of the tournament.”
Briton Poulter, the most controversial wildcard choice, won four points out of a possible five at Valhalla, the most on either team.
“I personally was always on the fence with regards to Poulter,” added Jacklin, the 1969 British Open and 1970 U.S. Open champion.
“He has never won anything in this country in America and, even though he has won a few times in Europe, I still wasn’t sure what he was made of.
“But he showed us at Valhalla and came through as a star. It could well take him to the next level. We can criticise that Nick didn’t bring Darren but then who are you going to leave out? Maybe Europe need more picks.”