The hatred of large sections of the British media for Nick Faldo is a puzzle. Faldo has an awkward manner, is uneasy with the press, and has always been inclined to be a bit…well, naff. His attempts to explain off the photo of his pairings as a sandwich list this week was emblematic of his lack of easy grace.
But for a substantial period Faldo was the best golfer in the world. To be the very best in a sport that has two hundred million players is tremendous. Yet compare Faldo’s treatment with that of Steve Redgrave, who was the best in a sport with approximately 200 million less players, or Johnny Wilkinson whose sport has approximately 199.5 million less players. Andy Murray will equal Faldo in stature when he has won six Grand Slam titles, compared to his current total of, umm, nil. All the signs are that Murray has less natural grace than Faldo. Yet in Murray the press portray it is a tigerish will to win.
A narrow loss to the United States in the Ryder Cup is no disgrace, The rubbish performance of seasoned pros like Garcia, Harrington, Jimenez, Westwood and Casey cannot be blamed on Faldo. Golf writers almost unanimously hailed one of the captain’s picks, Casey, as good and condemned the other, Poulter. Yet Casey was rubbish in the match. His decison to take a driver off the tee when Hunter Mahan was in the woods was for me the moment that lost the Ryder Cup. Poulter turned out to be the best player on either side in the entire match. Yet those same golf writers who got that completely wrong are now laying into Faldo big time.
Faldo is a sporting hero. There is not a golf writer in the country who deserves to shine his shoes.
This blog has moved into sport and films because, having seen David Milliband’s speech on TV, the very thought of politics makes me feel sick. Normal service will be resumed shortly.