Nick Faldo and the Tall Poppy Syndrome

September 22, 2008

The much-fancied European team loses the Ryder Cup. Within hours, the recriminations begin against team captain Faldo. The predicted process of cutting down the tall poppy has begun

This is a postscript on the week-end’s post on Ryder Cup leadership. In particular the observation on the tall poppy syndrome …

[S]horthand for the process in which high-profile figures receive celebrity status and at the same time become vulnerable to attacks ‘to bring them down to earth’. The process began when Faldo, someone always likely to be unswayed by popular sentiment, omitted public favourite Darren Clarke, and appeared to have given Ian Poulter (another quirky and gifted personality) preferential treatment even as other players struggled for the automatic places available on the team through tournament rankings.

As it happens, the captain’s pick, Ian Poulter, was the outstanding success of a patchy performance from Europe’s best golfers. That has hardly lessened the post-match criticisms.

Was Faldo a bad captain? Nowhere nearly as bad as he is now being presented.

The Tall Poppy Syndrome is alive and well, and maybe needs as much attention as those other pernicious poppy harvests around the world.