GLENEAGLES, Scotland (AP) — Nick Faldo defended his television commentary that Sergio Garcia was “useless” in the 2008 Ryder Cup, saying the Spaniard had emotional and physical problems at Valhalla and even told Faldo that he did not want to play.
Faldo, captain of that 2008 team that lost to the Americans, conceded it was a harsh choice of words. But in an interview Friday night with The Associated Press, he revealed details of that Ryder Cup and said “he wasn’t the Sergio everyone knows now.”
He said Garcia was emotionally down after breaking up with his girlfriend and told him he didn’t want to play after the pairings already were in.
Garcia’s teammates rallied around him Friday night at Gleneagles after a late rally to take a 5-3 lead in the Ryder Cup.
“Are you sure you didn’t misquote him?” Garcia said when told of Faldo’s comments. “That’s unfortunate. I guess he doesn’t feel European. That’s the only thing I can think of. There’s a lot of things I could say about Nick Faldo, but I’m not going to put myself down to his level.”
Faldo is the analyst for Golf Channel, and as Garcia was teeing off Friday morning in fourballs with Rory McIlroy, host Terry Gannon said that regardless of what Garcia has done on his own, he has been “spectacular” during the Ryder Cup.
“Yes, apart from one,” Faldo replied.
When Gannon asked if that 2008 Ryder Cup still hurt, Faldo said: “He was useless.” After some laughter, Faldo added: “Half a point, bad attitude. Anyway, we move on six years later.”
Garcia actually earned one point from going 0-2-2 for the week, his worst record in six Ryder Cups.
“He was always labeled as the man who brings emotion and passion. We didn’t have it that week,” Faldo told the AP. “That’s, in my opinion, how it looked and felt.”
Faldo said Garcia was “down in the dumps” after Morgan Leigh Norman, the daughter of Greg Norman, had broken up with him.
“Friday morning, I’m going up the 10th hole with him,” he said. “I just put my arm around him and said, ‘Are you good to go this afternoon?’ And he said, ‘Yes’ to me. Then I get him on the 18th green and he says, ‘I’m (expletive). I don’t want to play anymore. I’ve been on antibiotics.’ I told him he was on the tee in 30 minutes.”
The pairings are submitted for the afternoon before the morning matches are over.
“That was the tone of Sergio for the whole week,” Faldo said. “He wasn’t in it.”
Faldo said his choice of words — “useless” — stems from reacting on live television.
“I agree that was harsh,” he said. “Everybody immediately goes straight to him that ‘Faldo says you were useless’ when they don’t know the circumstances. It’s live television. It’s half tongue-in-cheek. It’s a throwaway line with no malice.”
Friday ended much better than it started for Garcia.
After losing a fourballs match to Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley, Garcia and McIlroy won the last two holes for a momentum-building half-point. When Faldo’s comments were mentioned, Westwood said, “That’s a great question. OK. We’ll take the euphoria we all have from today and just crush it.”
Graeme McDowell pointed out that Westwood and Garcia were benched for the first time in their Ryder Cup careers at Valhalla.
“You’ve got one of the best Ryder Cup pairings of all time being sat down on a Saturday afternoon of a Ryder Cup that we go on to lose,” McDowell said. “I’d say Sergio was fairly useless that afternoon, yeah. Because he wasn’t able to play.”
Faldo said he didn’t want “to create a bigger fire than it is” during the Ryder Cup. He said he would explain his comments on television Saturday given the chance, though it would be a Golf Channel show and not during the main telecast. NBC Sports with Johnny Miller takes over on the weekend.
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