Local hero Woosnam right man for Celtic Manor

WITHIN moments of the Ryder Cup having been regained by America the inquest had begun and the knee-jerk reaction from Kentucky to Kent was to stick the boot into Europe captain Nick Faldo.

Not, however, former Ryder Cup captain Bernard Gallacher, who ploughed a lonely furrow in insisting Faldo should be asked to do the job again at Celtic Manor in two years time.

Why? “Because he deserves a victory,” said Gallacher.

And you really had to wonder what was going through Gallacher’s mind after a week in which Europe had slumped to their worst defeat in 27 years and Faldo had trodden all over the art of leadership.

It was a bit like saying Gordon Brown deserved another five years because he had presided over the worst financial crisis in living memory.

The truth is Faldo was a dreadful captain.

From the rambling and embarrassing opening speech, the ‘Fools and Horses’ impression, the gaffe over the pairings being caught on camera, the dropping of Lee Westwood and the final day order which meant his big guns at the back of the field never had a chance to manufacture the crucial psychological momentum swings which are an integral part of the Ryder Cup.

Don’t get me wrong. It was a wonderful Ryder Cup. A match with edge and passion which tiptoed at times on the touchline of sporting legality but which contained itself to deliver the most compelling and memorable action.

It gave us the huge hitting of JB Holmes, the arrival of a potential new golfing superstar in Anthony Kim and the signature personality of the 2008 Ryder Cup in Boo Weekley, whose over-zealous conducting of the ‘Boo-S-A’ chanting galleries was brilliant or boorish depending on your nationality. It also gave us the intelligent Graeme McDowell, the splendid Justin Rose and the mercurial Ian Poulter.

Poulter was Faldo’s one stroke of genius, a captain’s pick who bought into the passion and commitment of the event and led the Europe fightback when more seasoned professionals such as Sergio Garcia and Pádraig Harrington were discovering Valhalla was a burial place for their normally vibrant talent.

But Faldo himself should be confined to the CBS television studio when the next match comes along. He should not be allowed anywhere near the team room.

Which is not meant to jump on the ‘Let’s bash Nick’ bandwagon which has been gathering such a head of steam, just to recognise that the Ryder Cup captaincy is a job for a man prepared to let his team and not himself be the story.

Who should be handed the honour at Newport’s Celtic Manor in 2010?

Let us start with who should not be considered and top of that pile is Colin Montgomerie.

No doubt Montgomerie will be captain one day. There is no more committed campaigner when it comes to the Ryder Cup, but he still retains hopes of playing and his time should come when the gasket has ceased to simmer with quite the same frequency, especially when primed by an American audience. Around 2024.

Sandy Lyle has the Major-winning credentials and diplomacy would be ensured, but quite where the inspiration would come from a man who quit the Open championship this year half-way through his first round because the weather was a little inclement is not immediately obvious.

Jose Maria Olazabal, Faldo’s assistant, has said he does not want the job and while Paul McGinley would be a good shout the chances are he will want to qualify for the team by right, the same reason which saw him withdraw as one of Faldo’s assistants this year.

Which leaves the obvious choice in Wales: Welshman Ian Woosnam.

I know Woosie did the job at the K Club two years ago when the critics were sceptical. They said he did not have the tactical nous for the task. That he would not have the diplomatic or oratory skills. That he was more a Major-winning figurehead than a leader who could cajole and inspire.

They were wrong. Woosnam was quite wonderful. Down-to-earth. Uncomplicated. Naturally modest, apart from his capacity to down a pint of Guinness. A man who, unlike Faldo, really did realise there is no ‘I’ in ‘Team.’

The players loved him and the extra surge of support and adrenalin supplied by a local hero should not be underestimated.

Quite simply, Woosnam is the best man for the job.

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