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Azinger slams Ryder Cup rival Faldo

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  • U.S. captain Paul Azinger launches an attack on Ryder Cup rival Nick Faldo
  • American claims Europe's captain does not have the support of his players
  • The duo have had an uneasy relationship since Faldo won 1987 British Open
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(CNN) -- United States captain Paul Azinger has upped the stakes ahead of September's Ryder Cup with a stinging attack on his Europe team counterpart Nick Faldo.

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Nick Faldo, left, and Paul Azinger will continue their rivalry at the Ryder Cup in September.

Faldo's stewardship ahead of Europe's bid for victory at Valhalla in Kentucky has already been criticized following his admonishment of Colin Montgomerie for his behavior at last season's Seve Trophy match in Ireland.

And now Azinger, who has had a rocky relationship with Faldo both as a player and television commentator, has weighed in by claiming that the Englishman is not popular with his players.

"Nick Faldo has tried to redefine himself," the American told Britain's Mail on Sunday newspaper. "I'd say he is both who he is and who he was.

"Some people have bought it. Some have not. But if you're going to be a p***k and everyone hates you, why do you think that just because you're trying to be cute and funny on air now that the same people are all going to start to like you?

"The bottom line is that the players from his generation and mine really don't want to have anything to do with him. He did what he did as a player and there are consequences."

Faldo, the record points scorer in Ryder Cup history, was renowned for his single-minded approach as a player -- which won him six major titles but few friends on the course.

His first run-in with Azinger came in 1987. After winning his first British Open at Muirfield, Faldo reportedly commented "Tough luck, old boy" after the American bogeyed the last two holes on the final day to miss out on the title.

They famously halved a Ryder Cup match six years later at The Belfry.

"He talked me into giving him a five-footer on the 16th," Azinger told the mail on Sunday. "He said, 'It's over. You guys have won'. So I waived the putt. Then Davis Love ran over and told me the match was still tied. I can't tell you how irritating that was.

"Then, on the 18th, when America had already won, I needed a 10-footer to win the hole and halve the match. Who gave a rat's ass about our match because the result of the Ryder Cup was already decided?

"I went through the motions of preparing for the putt expecting any second for him to tell me to pick the ball up. It would have been the sporting thing to have done and I couldn't believe it when he said nothing. I holed it, and that gave me so much pleasure.

"I guess I've always felt a rivalry with him, probably more than he has with me. I've got to know him better now but it doesn't change what's happened and, come September at Valhalla, something will have to give."

Faldo and Montgomerie used to be Ryder Cup partners, but the Scot now seems likely to miss out after slipping down the world rankings.

"I hope he plays against us, but I'm worried he won't," Azinger told the Mail on Sunday. "He and Faldo don't seem to get along and there's no way Faldo will award him one of his two wild-cards. I love that dude. We're all scared of him when he plays in the Ryder Cup.

"What he's done is amazing. Monty's become famous for it in the United States and he's never even won a major. Americans don't particularly like him but there's nothing wrong in being the villain.

"He's brought a lot of it on himself, of course. He probably won't ever win a major now, but I still want him in the European team because I want to show him what the taste of defeat is like. I've told him this. I also implored him to give me some stuff I shouldn't know about Faldo.

"Faldo will be a loner as a leader: very thorough, but a loner. I've got three assistants with me and, although people have suggested the players don't need them, they must understand that the assistants are for me, not the players."

Europe will be seeking a fourth successive victory in Louisville, with the U.S. having last won the biennial event on home soil at Brookline in 1999. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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