Nick Faldo

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Nick Faldo : biography

18 July 1957 –

Faldo’s CV boasts (often multiple) successes in high-profile tour events such as the French Open, Irish Open, Spanish Open, the European PGA, the British Masters, the European Open, the Johnnie Walker Classic, and the Volvo Masters, as well as his Nissan Open, Doral Open, and Heritage successes in the US. These wins are not only supplemented by his six majors, but also by his wins in invitational events such as the Nedbank Million Dollar Challenge, the Johnnie Walker World Golf Championship, and the World Matchplay, as well as his team successes in the Dunhill Cup, the World Cup of Golf, and the Ryder Cup.

Faldo is the most successful Ryder Cup player ever, having won the most points of any player on either team (25) and having represented the European Team a record 11 times. He played a key role in making Europe competitive in the event. Having won 23 of his matches, lost 19, and halved 4, he also holds the record for having played the most Ryder Cup matches.

Former Walker Cup captain Peter McEvoy said of Faldo: "He is a leading contender to be Britain’s finest ever sportsman in an individual sport. He is the gold standard from which the rest of modern British golf has to be judged."

In 2003, PGA chief executive Sandy Jones said of Faldo’s career: "His career achievements position him as Britain’s best golfer of all time. But it is his dedication and commitment to the game which really sets him apart."

The careers of Faldo and his arch rival for many years, Greg Norman, were profiled by Golf World magazine: "Norman has played and won more events: 87–43; however, Faldo has won more U.S. and European tour titles: 36–34. Norman has won more money; Faldo has won more majors: 6–2. Norman has won more friends, Faldo more admirers."

2008 Ryder Cup captaincy

Faldo was selected as captain of the European Ryder Cup team in 2008. The 37th Ryder Cup was won 16½ – 11½ by Team USA to end the streak of three successive victories for Team Europe. This was Team USA’s largest margin of victory since 1981, and the first time since 1979 the Americans had the lead after every session of play. It was held at the Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky, USA, which was a contributing factor in Faldo getting the captaincy; he had lived and worked in America for over a decade.

Faldo had made a bold move to pick Ian Poulter as his wild card ahead of the much favoured Darren Clarke who already had two tour victories that season including the KLM Open just two weeks prior to the captain’s picks being announced. This decision, questioned by many, paid off when Poulter emerged as the top scorer in the tournament.

Faldo had a very erratic relationship with the media prior to and during the competition. It was suggested by some journalists that Faldo’s actions lost himself considerable credibility. During practice, photographers had taken pictures of him holding a list of players initials, seemingly outlining the partnerships for the coming days. In the following press conference, he denied the list had any part in his tactics and claimed it was a list of the players sandwich orders. This was met with extreme scepticism from the media, which notably irritated Faldo when he was asked continuing questions about it. Faldo eventually admitted they were in fact possible player pairings and he’d been "caught out".

Faldo’s attempts at humour in the opening ceremony seemed to fall flat with the audience. There was an embarrassing moment when Faldo introduced his team and announced Søren Hansen as Søren Stenson. Faldo also brought more criticism upon himself by taking up the majority of his opening speech by talking about himself and his family. Introducing Graeme McDowell, Faldo asked: "Where do you come from again? Ireland or Northern Ireland?"

Faldo controversially decided to play Sergio García and Lee Westwood, the two most successful Ryder Cup players on his team, for only one session on the Saturday. His team selection was vindicated, however, as Europe finished the day 1 point ahead, closing the gap to 2 points behind the USA. On the final day of the competition, Faldo decided to play a "bottom heavy" tactic, where the best players would start lower down the order, thus if it went to a close finish, Europe would have its best players in play. This tactic seemed to backfire, as the USA, leading by 2 at the start of the day, gained the 5 points they required by the eighth match rendering the last four irrelevant. This led to some severe criticism of Faldo’s strategic skills.