We knew Seve was always with us, says emotional Olazabal after Ryder Cup triumph
00:54 GMT, 1 October 2012
00:54 GMT, 1 October 2012
Far more predictable than Europe’s sensational Ryder Cup victory was that when it was all over, captain Jose Maria Olazabal could not contain his emotions.
The 46-year-old Spaniard, whose side were given just a 33-1 to chance of winning by bookmakers midway through the final afternoon, wept as he considered what an inspiration Severiano Ballesteros had been to him and his team.
‘Seve will always be present with this team, he was a big factor with this event,’ said Olazabal, reflecting on the impact still made by the Spanish genius who died aged 54 in May 2011 following a battle against brain cancer.
Top trio: McIlroy is joined by Garcia (top) and Donald
‘Last night when we were having our team meeting, the boys understood that believing was the most important thing, and that’s what they did.
‘It’s been a tough week. The first two days, nothing went our way. We struggled on the greens but this morning I felt a little change in that regard, and we started to make a few putts while the Americans started to miss them.
‘Winning those few matches in the latter stages, that was the key. I’ve been under pressure, hitting shots myself, but that tops anything I have felt. I am so proud of our guys.’
American captain Davis Love, who will surely rue his decision to sit Keegan Bradley out in the second set of fourballs, was dignified in defeat and insisted he had no regrets.
Emotional: Olazabal paid tribute his his late great friend Ballesteros
Legend: Olazabal played alongside Ballesteros in several Ryder Cups
‘I wouldn’t have done anything
different, Europe played great. Our guys had been playing so well it
didn’t seem to matter what order we sent them out in. A couple of
matches flipped their way at the end that made it easier for them,’ he
added in reference to the succession of dramatic late turnarounds.
are all kind of stunned, it’s a little bit shocking. We know what it
feels like now from Brookline. We wanted to win every segment but we got
beat badly in this one. Any time you lose a segment that badly, it’s
going to cost you the Ryder Cup.
Poulter’s hot streak at the end of day two gave them confidence and
they built on that. Our guys who started hot over the first couple of
days did not start hot today.
and Woods were put in the back just in case and fought hard, but once
the Europeans got momentum it was hard to stop them.’
Dejected: Love (right) is applauded by his team during the closing ceremony
Justin Rose gave Europe hope that they could make the dream become reality when he came back from one down with two to play to beat Phil Mickelson. Rose admitted: ‘We are in shock. We knew that if a couple of their guys started to wobble it was going to get incredibly tight for them.’
On his own stunning victory, Rose added: ‘Those were the three biggest putts I’ve ever made back to back in my career under pressure. I just said to myself that I haven’t putted well all week and, “Rosey, this is what it could all come down to”.
‘Coming off the green here I’ve looked down at my left sleeve (with the Ballesteros emblem) and it’s the kind of thing Seve would have done for sure.’
Martin Kaymer, the German who sealed retention of the Cup with the point that took Europe to an unassailable 14 points, was an unlikely hero. After having a relatively mediocre season following his first major win – the US PGA title – in 2010, he held his nerve to sink a five-foot put on the 18th. He credited a chat with his compatriot Bernhard Langer.
Nerves of steel: Kaymer holed the winning putt
‘This is a feeling that I’ve never had before,’ said Kaymer, 27. ‘On Friday night I sat down with Bernhard and talked to him about the Ryder Cup because my attitude wasn’t the right one.
‘It helped me a lot to talk about it and after today I know how important the Ryder Cup is.
‘The major win was just for myself but this is a completely different level – I could see the guys behind me, my brother was here and Sergio ran on to the green, it felt like there was so much more behind me.’
Overall, Europe’s top performer was the talismanic Poulter, who ended with a 4-0 record – the only 100 per cent performer – and became one of four Europeans who won their singles by outplaying their opponents on the 17th and 18th holes.
He was more responsible than anyone for giving Europe a chink of light late on Saturday with brilliant putting in a fourballs win with Rory McIlroy.
Main man: Poulter (right) celebrates with Justin Rose
‘Last night we took such a lot from those two late wins,’ he said. ‘It was amazing to see the atmosphere change in that team room, the spirit was different. The guys were pumped up, we just felt there was that glimmer of hope. Whether it’s this man here on my sleeve (Ballesteros) or just Ollie I don’t know, but it’s pretty special.’
By contrast it had been a dismal Ryder Cup for Tiger Woods, who missed at the 18th and then conceded the final putt to allow his opponent Francesco Molinari a half – the first of the entire match – because he knew the chance of regaining the trophy had gone.
‘After they retained it everything went down,’ said Woods. ‘My putt was useless, it was inconsequential, so I hit it too quick and then gave his to him. That’s twice now when I’ve been on the fairway when the Cup was already over – like at The Belfry (2002).’
PUTTING THE PAST TO BED
REVENGE FOR LANGER Kiawah Island, 1991
The ‘War on the Shore’ culminated in one of the most dramatic putts in the history of golf – and one that would haunt German Bernhard Langer for 13 years. On the final green it was down to Langer and American Hale Irwin. To the surprise of his team-mates, Langer conceded Irwin’s bogey putt, leaving himself a six-footer he had to make. Thirteen years later he captained Europe to victory in the 2004 Ryder Cup in America, where Europe slaughtered the hosts in the singles on the final day. On Sunday another German, Martin Kaymer, gained revenge for Langer by sinking a very similar putt on the 18th green to ensure Europe would retain the trophy.
REVENGE FOR BROOKLINE Brookline, 1999
The ‘Battle of Brookline’ saw Euro-American relations at an all-time low. The lead was the complete reverse of Sunday’s going into the final day – 10-6 to a European team captained by Mark James – but American captain Ben Crenshaw decided to pack the top of the order with his best players, just as Jose Maria Olazabal did at Medinah. Europe panicked and ultimately lost 15-13 but there were ugly scenes on the 17th green when Justin Leonard holed his putt and was then mobbed by his American team-mates, who trampled over Jose Maria Olazabal’s line before he’d had the chance to putt.