By Brian Keogh
Oceanico boss Gerry Fagan has launched a scathing attack on Ryder Cup skipper Nick Faldo for last month's Seve Trophy fiasco at The Heritage.
The Drogheda-born property millionaire has lashed Faldo's captaincy as "an insult" to the sponsors and Ireland in general, vowing never to touch the event again.
Fagan pumped "big money" into the Co Laois event in an attempt to woo Irish property buyers to invest in Portugal, where Faldo is designing a course for him.
But just a handful of fans turned up to see the matches after Padraig Harrington's withdrawal and Faldo's decision not to pick an Irishman as one of his wildcards.
A fed up Fagan said: "We would have been better off sponsoring the ploughing championships.
"One of the major reasons we supported the Seve Trophy was that we get great support from the market in Ireland and not to have an Irish player on board was tantamount to an insult both to us as a sponsor and to the country generally.
"We were very disappointed with the crowds. And we were very disappointed that there wasn't an Irish player there."
"The captain has a say in the team. There were various reasons given why there wasn't an Irishman on the team - miscommunication and stuff like that.
"But I think it is the responsibility of a professional competition like that to be professionally run. There shouldn't be miscommunications and therefore the responsibility has to come back to the captain."
Faldo controversially back-tracked in offering a wildcard to Paul McGinley after first struggling to contact England's Simon Dyson.
McGinley subsequently embroiled Faldo in more problems, when he resigned as one of Faldo's Ryder Cup vice-captains on the eve of the Seve Trophy matches.
The Seve Trophy was scheduled to come back to Ireland in 2009 but that looks unlikely now after Seve Ballesteros accused Harrington of letting Ireland and golf down.
Seve said: "He let down me, he let down the Seve Trophy, he let down the people from Ireland, especially the people from the Dublin area."
As far as Fagan is concerned, Faldo let everyone down and he won"t be making the same mistake again.
Assessing the financial implications, Fagan said: "It was a significant outlay in the hundreds of thousands of euro - a big, big sum of money. The exact figure is between the Tour, Tom Keane of The Heritage and ourselves.
"I think golf has to be very careful and that the money-go-round of golf, which is large money, has to respect the sponsors. And it has to respect not only the sponsors' nationality but their wishes as well.
"There is a commercial reality to everything that happens in the sponsorship market, whether it be football or golf or tennis.
"At the end of the day we are a massive supporter of golf worldwide, effectively. And our feeling is that if you don't get value for money you have to take your money elsewhere."
Fagan, 55, was managing director of the Campbell Bewley Group but sold his shares more than a decade ago and set up Oceanico with Manchester-born business partner Simon Burgess.
The company now has a golf and property portfolio estimated to be worth more than €2 billion, making them one of the biggest players in world golf.
In a major marketing drive, the company has signed up McGinley, Harrington, Darren Clarke, Retief Goosen, David Howell and Lee Westwood as property owners and prospective future neighbours.
Faldo and Christy O'Connor Jnr are building one course each at the 36-hole, 640-acre Amendoeira Golf and Leisure Resort in the district of Silves, just 35 minutes from Faro airport while Ballesteros is doing another course in the north of the course.
The future of Faldo and Ballesteros" relationship with the company must now be under serious strain with Fagan explaining: "Our main reason for going with the Seve Trophy was the fact that Seve himself is designing a course for us in the north of Portugal in Obidos.
"We felt that since we were launching Obidos in Dublin two weeks later, that it would be a good thing to do.
"We weren't originally planning to be sponsors or be involved in the Seve Trophy at all. Tom (Keane) approached us initially and we said no. But we brought forward our launch of Obidos to coincide."
Fagan and his Oceanico business partner Simon Burgess, are major players European Tour sponsorship after buying the five courses at Vilamoura for "125 million earlier this year.
And as a shrewd businessman, Fagan was not surprised to see Smurfit Kappa pull out of it sponsorship of the European Open last week.
And he won"t be surprised to hear that the Heritage will have nothing more to do with the Seve Trophy in a tight golf sponsorship market.
He said: "It is very difficult to follow the Ryder Cup. To have a competition of that nature so soon after the Ryder Cup was going to be tough.
"It is very hard to follow the Ryder Cup in Ireland and everyone in the sponsorship game and the golf game has to be very careful now in doing something like that.
"I have to say that Tom Keane's team at the Heritage produced one of the most wonderful courses that I have ever seen.
"I heard comments from Monty and other people saying that they were almost afraid to hit the ball on the tee boxes because they looked better than any green they had played on for most of the year.
"It costs a lot of money to do something like that and we know how much here at the Portugal Masters in terms of lost rounds of golf. I feel sorry for Tom and his team, who put so much work into that."
Fagan believes Ireland needs a dynamic tourism team to push Ireland as a golf destination.
But he is convinced that the legacy of the Ryder Cup will stand to the country for years to come.
He said: "Having the Ryder Cup means there is a lasting benefit to Ireland. If you ask people where they would like to go, Ireland is on everybody's lips.
"With the TV coverage, the Ryder Cup is the most watched event in the history of TV after the World Cup. And I think the benefit will go on for years."
Last week's Portugal Masters was a massive success with record scoring and perfect weather adding to the enjoyment of the event.
The purse was €3 million but looks set to rise beyond €4 million next year, making it one of the biggest events on the European Tour schedule.