Faldo keeps everyone guessing

Nick Faldo put his personal stamp on Europe's Ryder Cup side again today before a ball had even been struck in practice at Valhalla.

Nick Faldo put his personal stamp on Europe's Ryder Cup side again today before a ball had even been struck in practice at Valhalla.

Faldo gathered all 12 players together on the first tee just after 8am and gave a team talk before leading them off for the official photo shoot.

Then he revealed that he was sending them off in threes, which meant nothing much could be guessed about possible pairings for the match itself.

"It's an observation day - learning the course," said Faldo.

The groups were as follows: Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood, Soren Hansen; Padraig Harrington, Henrik Stenson, Graeme McDowell; Paul Casey, Robert Karlsson, Ian Poulter; Justin Rose, Oliver Wilson, Miguel Angel Jimenez.

Of those Garcia and Westwood were a partnership in 2002 and 2004 (4 1/2 points out of six) as were Casey and Karlsson at The K Club two years ago (two halves), while there has been speculation that Open and US PGA champion Harrington could play with fellow Irishman McDowell this week.

Rookies Rose and Wilson, meanwhile, were partners under Faldo at the Seve Trophy last year, although they lost their only game together, and 13 years ago were England boy team-mates.

Some of the caddies were in attendance as well for the get-together and assistant Jose Maria Olazabal took over the speaking for a while.

Seven of the side had flown over with Faldo on a Virgin Atlantic airbus yesterday before linking up with the other five - Rose, Garcia, Stenson, Poulter and Casey - at the hotel.

Faldo has drawn criticism for both his selection of Poulter ahead of Darren Clarke and also having Olazabal as his only assistant, but he has maintained throughout he will do things how he sees fit.

"We've got 18 Ryder Cups between the two of us and we have served with five captains as well," Faldo said three weeks ago. "I want to keep it the two of us, because the thing I learned from the Seve Trophy (last year) was that if I'm going to make the final decision I have to gather the information myself.

"We are very comfortable with just the two of us."

On arrival in America, however, he had stated: "I've got a couple of ideas up my sleeve, which will be revealed."

A smiling Westwood was good news for Faldo after the Worksop golfer pulled out of the European Masters two weeks ago because of another bout of tonsilitis.

"I've booked to have them out - November 3," said Westwood as he and rookie Hansen walked together.

Only four of the side - Garcia, Harrington, Westwood and Jimenez - played in the 2000 US PGA and Jimenez was also at the same event in 1996.

Rose added that he is feeling refreshed after "my first two weeks off all year".

Instead of competing in the FedEx Cup he - unlike Poulter - came back to Europe to secure his place.

"Straight afterwards I came back to Florida, had a week of rest and then Poults and Henrik (Stenson) came to Lake Nona as well and we had a few games together," he said.

"It's great that the week is here now. It was a quiet night last night. Those who were on the plane were pretty much jet-lagged, so most went to bed about 9pm."

There were still parts of Louisville without power following Hurricane Ike's destructive path through southern states.

Valhalla did not escape, a television tower crashing on to the 12th green during winds that gusted to 90mph.

Trees were also brought down, but the repair work had been carried out for the start of official practice.

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