Captains are talk of the Cup so far

September 20, 2008 | Drew Forrester

Forget the fact that the U.S. has raced out to a 5.5-2.5 lead after day one of the Ryder Cup (hooray for that!).

The story as the weekend arrives and every putt takes on even more importance has centered on Paul Azinger (U.S.) and Nick Faldo (Europe), the Captain of their respective side.

Azinger drew the ire of European players, followers and media members on Friday when he acted like a 12th grade cheerleader at the football homecoming game. ‘Zinger stopped several times on the back nine and got out of his cart to instruct the fans at Valhalla to “rev it up” as he was heard to say one occasion behind the 15th green.

Azinger’s decision to sit Jim Furyk was also criticized when the afternoon pairings were revealed and Furyk wasn’t on the list, but the U.S. picked up 2.5 points in the afternoon four-ball matches and nothing quiets the critics like winning.

Faldo, meanwhile, might be in trouble if his big guns don’t start playing well.

Wait, his big guns are sitting out this morning, as Faldo benched both Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood for this morning’s alternate-shot format.

That’s the story everyone’s been chewing on for the last 12 hours or so. “Faldo benched Garcia and Westwood?”

Garcia did NOT play well on day one and needs a 30-minute range tune-up to get rid of a wobbly push-right iron shot that plagued him throughout Friday’s play.

I don’t understand the Westwood benching. He played his heart out in both matches and hit a number of good shots for Europe.

The late round choke job from Ian Poulter and Justin Rose in the Friday morning alternate shot match was just one of the occasions when the Europeans came unglued.

Other than Padraig Harrington, who played spectacularly all day, no European was blameless.

For the U.S., Justin Leonard and Anthony Kim have been on-point since the opening whistle.

Saturday’s play is starting right now…gotta run and watch the U.S. – hopefully – extend their lead!