Europes Big Three come up woefully short for Faldo

By Associated PressSeptember 21, 2008, 4:00 pm
Ryder CupLOUISVILLE, Ky. ' Europe came to Valhalla with the stars, the experience and arguably the hottest golfer on the planet.
The Europeans left without the Ryder Cup, thanks in part to the Big Three that turned into the Little 2 1/2.
Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood and Padraig Harrington ' who had combined for 38 1/2 points during their storied Cup careers ' managed just 2 1/2 at raucous Valhalla, giving a largely lifeless performance as the U.S. won the Cup for the first time in nine years.
Sergio Garcia
Stalwarts like Sergio Garcia let captain Nick Faldo down. (Getty Images)
Garcia and Westwood had been nearly unbeatable during Europes run of three consecutive Cup wins. Yet the magic ' not to mention the clutch putts ' that they delivered so often this decade never showed up in front of a raucous crowd that seemed to delight in their struggles.
Westwood called out budding U.S. star Boo Weekley following their testy fourball match Friday afternoon, saying Weekleys fist-pumping, crowd-whooping antics straddled the line of good taste.
Normally the nearly unflappable Westwood thrives under the crucible of the Cup, but this Cup was anything but normal.
Europe captain Nick Faldo drew some criticism for sitting his two most experienced players during Saturdays morning foursomes, though Garcia later admitted he told Faldo he wasnt feeling well and perhaps could use a session off. Faldo decided to sit Westwood as well, the first time Westwood sat out a match in his Cup career.
The rest didnt pay off with a victory.
Westwood and Soren Hansen dropped their afternoon match to Weekley and J.B. Holmes, and all Garcia and Paul Casey could manage was a half-point against Steve Stricker and Ben Curtis.
Needing a spark in singles play to jump-start a comeback, Faldo sent out Garcia first Sunday. It never happened against Anthony Kim, who played with the kind of fire thats become part of Garcias trademark in the Cup. Kim played aggressively and never missed an opportunity to take advantage when Garcias play got away from him.
Its hard when youre in those kind of situations, but unfortunately I just couldnt get anything right today, Garcia said. I feel like I had a good chance, but I just couldnt get anything right.
Neither could Harrington.
The reigning British Open and PGA champion admitted he came to Valhalla a little off and managed just an 0-2-1 record through the first two days. Still, Harrington asked Faldo if he could go last in singles on Sunday, hoping it would come down to him.
No chance.
Harrington led only briefly during his match against Chad Campbell, and lost all enthusiasm when the U.S. clinched the Cup up ahead of him on his way to a 2 and 1 loss.
The stinging defeat will stick with Faldo for a while. He took considerable heat when he chose Ian Poulter and Paul Casey with his wild card picks over longtime European stars Darren Clarke and Colin Montgomerie.
Though Poulter turned into the European team star, going 4-1-0, it wasnt enough. The European team never led after any session and when Garcia fell flat against Kim, Faldos decision to backload his singles lineup with Westwood and Harrington backfired.
It was always going to be a difficult situation, we needed to win most of the matches up front, Harrington said. It didnt come down to us and well never really know if we could have pulled something out of the hat at that stage.
By that time, the hat was empty.
Garcia had been nearly unbeatable the last three Cups, losing just once and becoming the emotional spark plug who reveled in making big shots and irking the Americans.
This time whenever Sergio surged, the U.S. had an answer.
Garcia tried to pick himself up on Saturday, knocking in long birdie putt during his afternoon four-ball match, shouting Come on, come on, when the ball disappeared into the hole. Stricker responded by matching Garcia with a lengthy putt of his own and adding an uncharacteristic fist-pump on top of it.
It was more of the same on Sunday. Garcias loss to Kim dropped him to 1-4 in singles play, and this time he couldnt take solace in a team victory.

Related Links:
  • U.S. Ryder Cup Team and Records
  • European Ryder Cup Team and Records
  • Full Coverage - 37th Ryder Cup
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    Full-field scores from the QBE Shootout

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    Offseason = No dress code fines #croptopdroptop

    A post shared by Michelle Wie (@themichellewie) on

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