Faldo benches Westwood Garcia


Ryder CupLOUISVILLE, Ky. ' Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood were benched for Saturdays Ryder Cup matches by European captain Nick Faldo, suggesting its never too early to reach for the panic button.
The surprise move marked the first time both stars, the longest-serving members on the European team, will miss a match in their Ryder Cup careers. Westwood has played in 27 consecutive matches, going unbeaten in his last dozen to tie a record held by American Arnold Palmer. Garcia has appeared in 22 straight.
Faldo wasnt asked about his decision to sit both in the morning round because the pairings werent announced until after he left the interview room Friday evening with his team trailing 5 1/2 -2 1/2 . It was the first time a U.S. team held the first-day lead since 1995, and the largest cushion established by an American side since 1979, when players from continental Europe joined the competition.
Before the pairings were announced, Faldo may have dropped a hint that Westwood might sit out.
Well, Lee is a very strong character here, Faldo said. He produces great tee shots when theyre needed, great shots, great putts. I mean, he thrives on it, and like all the guys, hes done a grand days work.
A moment later, he aqdded, Youll probably see from the pairings a few changes because we need some fresh legs for tomorrow.
U.S. captain Paul Azinger followed his European counterpart into the interview room, saying, Im not going to justify why Nick Faldo does what he does. Im sure hes confident in the guys he put out there. I respect everybody on their team. I know what theyre capable of, and whats on paper doesnt mean anything to anybody.
Both Garcia and Westwood played twice Friday, and a European tour spokesman said neither reported any injuries.
Westwood paired with Garcia for a half-point in the alternate-shot morning match, then joined Dane Soren Hansen in the afternoon for a half-point in the better-ball competition.
I would rather have two wins to my name today, Westwood said about tying Palmers record in his sixth appearance at the matches. Individual records really are just something that happen at Ryder Cup. Its all about the team, really.
Garcia had won eight straight matches until he halved the morning match against Kenny Perry and Jim Furyk. The Spaniard teamed with countryman Miguel Angel Jimenez in the afternoon and was beaten by Justin Leonard and Hunter Mahan.
Garcia and Westwood have a 27-5-8 record playing together in alternate-shot and better-ball matches.
Faldo did give Englishman Oliver Wilson, the only European to sit out Friday, a chance to play Saturday morning. Hell team with Henrik Stenson of Sweden against the U.S. duo of Phil Mickelson and Anthony Kim in the next-to-last alternate-shot match.
The opening match pits the English duo of Ian Poulter and Justin Rose against Stewart Cink and Chad Campbell, followed by Jimenez and Irishman Graeme McDowell against Leonard and Mahan. Padraig Harrington, the Irishman and British Open and PGA champion, will team with Swede Robert Karlsson in the mornings final game.
Both Garcia and Westwood are likely to be back in Europes team for the afternoon better-ball matches.
Related Links:
  • U.S. Ryder Cup Team and Records
  • European Ryder Cup Team and Records
  • Full Coverage - 37th Ryder Cup