Well they all said that Nick Faldo’s appointment as The European Ryder Cup team captain would prove controversial. He’s never been liked by many of his peers and last night he demonstrated even more capacity to upset the golfing fraternity by selecting his one close mate on the circuit, Ian Poulter, to be one of his two wild card picks for the Ryder Cup team. Whilst most people would applaud his selection of Paul Casey for the other wild card, there has been almost universal disbelief at Poulter’s selection over the claims of Darren Clarke and Colin Montgomerie.
Ian Poulter eh…I’ve written about him quite a bit and it always attracts a significant interest. He’s talented without question but it’s his showponyism and grandstanding which makes him such a prize prick. With his outrageous golf gear, nude poses and claims to be Tiger Woods’ only serious rival (don’t make me laugh) he often seems more concerned at attracting media coverage than winning golf events. And winning and good form was the criteria that Faldo said would determine his wild card selections. So how is Poulter’s form? Utter crap to be honest. He’s doing nothing all season except finish 2nd at the Open – weeks ago. Since then he’s hardly made a cut.
So what of Darren Clarke? Well golf fans will know that at the time of the last Ryder Cup he showed extraordinary personal courage to overcome the recent death of his wife from cancer, to dominate the event with some inspired performances which captivated the watching public. However his regular play suffered understandably and he fell to number 256 in the world rankings as his focus turned to more personal issues. However in the last 6 months, even though he has avoided some of the higher-value points-scoring tournaments, he has re-built his game and risen 200 places to be back on the brink of the world’s top 50 players. A quite extraordinary achievement.
So it’s not a form decision by Faldo clearer. What makes it more unbelieveable is that Clarke is well-liked on the circuit and many of the team have already expressed regret that he’s not in the team including key players Harrington and Westwood. Former captain Bernard Gallagher is certain that team morale will be badly affected – especially since Poulter is universally regarded as a tosspot. A poll of 32 players at Gleneagles this last week, asked who they would select, came up with Poulter’s name….just once. What’s more Clarke has formed a formidable playing partnership with Ryder Cup team-mate Lee Westwood. He has been on the winning side 4 times and the pair represent a feared combo by the Americans. The US team captain Azinger last night admitted he was dumb-founded by Clarke’s omission. Uummm.
I sense a major psychological advantage has been handed to the Americans. Instead of sporting hero Clarke they get to face dandy Poulter. They must have really been sooo impressed by Poulter’s earlier assertion that he was the only player in the world capable of rivalling the Tiger. I bet they can’t wait to draw Poulter and make him eat his words along with his ridiculous pink shoes.
Perhaps the added omission of Montgomerie is more predictable – he’s been struggling for form himself and couldn’t be considered ahead of Casey on that basis alone. But he too seemingly becomes a man-possessed when he pulls on that Ryder Cup jumper and he’s become virtually unbeatable over the years in the event. Indeed with 23.5 points he has the second highest points tally of any player in the tournament’s history. And he might now be stranded just 1.5 points behind the Ryder Cup’s all time points achiever. Who’s that? Just your Nick Faldo! There’s to be a press conference from Montgomery later today – it should be great listening.
All selections based on form and form alone eh Nick? Uumm again. I really hope your desire to be your own man doesn’t prove an achilles heel for our team. Anybody think Faldo’s got it right out there?