Dubai, United Arab Emirates
In a widely predicted move, the PGA European Tour’s 14-man tournament committee named Ian Woosnam and Nick Faldo the next two European Ryder Cup captains. That decision was then rubber-stamped by the Ryder Cup policy board and announced March 2 in Dubai.
Woosnam will guide Europe, winners of four of the past five matches, at Ireland’s K Club in 2006, and Faldo will lead in 2008 at Valhalla in Kentucky.
“I think when you have captains of the caliber of Ian Woosnam and Nick Faldo, it’s quite easy to understand why,” said George O’Grady, the European Tour’s executive director.
Jamie Spence, chairman of the tournament committee, said: “Ian was a unanimous choice from all of the guys on the committee for these matches.
“We felt some sort of obligation towards Nick. We did not feel it was fair to keep him hanging on. We felt he needed to know. He wanted to know and we weren’t prepared to make him wait.”
Several tour players at the Dubai Desert Classic voiced agreement with the choices.
“I think it was the right thing to do to name two captains with both being such good candidates,” said David Howell, who played on the European team at the 2004 matches at Oakland Hills. “To not give Nick the American one might have left a bitter taste in his mouth and he didn’t deserve that. Woosie will do a great job in Ireland.”
Veteran Tour player Mark Roe was a member of the committee that selected the pair.
“We couldn’t pick one and not the other,” Roe said. “That wouldn’t have been fair. They both deserve the job and this is the perfect way to make sure they are both rewarded for the years they have given to the Ryder Cup.”
One player that was disappointed was Sandy Lyle, a five-time Ryder Cup player.
“I don’t think there is much chance for me there now,” said Lyle, who will turn 50 in 2008. “This is the first time they called for two captains, and that’s basically saying, well, that’s it for me. I don’t know why they did it this time. I can’t see the reason for it.”
For Woosnam, it was a nice present – the announcement came on his 47th birthday.
“I would have been disappointed if I hadn’t got the job this time,” said Woosnam, who served as vice captain for Sam Torrance at the 2002 Ryder Cup.
“It’s good for me because I am at the right age. I want to spend as much time getting this team right and doing the things I need to do.”
The Welshman confirmed that he will name an Irishman as his vice captain. He will make his selection public at the European Open in late June at The K Club. Names in the mix for the vice captaincy include Des Smyth, Eamonn Darcy, Christy O’Connor Jr., Philip Walton, Ronan Rafferty and David Feherty.
Peter Baker, a close friend of Woosnam’s who played in the 1993 match, also will form part of the Welshman’s backroom staff.
Colin Montgomerie, a seven-time Ryder Cup player, applauded the dual announcement.
“We had a golden opportunity to select two prime candidates, and we took it,” he said. “It has been seen as a positive step, not just for everyone here but for the tour. It leaves the captain issue dead for 31⁄2 years. We can hopefully talk about something else.”