The three Ryder Cup Vice-Captains – Thomas Björn, Darren Clarke and Paul McGinley – are all on hand at the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles to offer José María Olazábal any advice should he need it this weekend, although the European Captain appears to be keeping his cards close to his chest.
Olazábal will announce his two wild cards on Monday after the last of the ten automatic places is finalised on Sunday night at the conclusion of this week’s Johnnie Walker Championship, with Nicolas Colsaerts the only player with a chance of forcing his way into the ten. And while the three men unveiled last week for his backroom team are currently as much in the dark as anyone as to who those picks will be, they could well be on scouting missions over the first two rounds.
Björn has been paired with Colsaerts and McGinley with another contender in US PGA Championshop runner-up David Lynn while Clarke will spend the first two days partnering Olazábal over the PGA Centenary Course.
“I don’t know whether I am going to be involved in the picks or not,” admitted McGinley. “I spoke with him this morning, had breakfast with him, but we didn’t go into massive detail. You know Ollie, he plays his cards close to his chest. If he wants my opinion, I am happy to give it to him, but I’m happy for him to make this decision himself.”
Björn was saying the same things on the subject of the wild cards. “I have to say he is keeping his cards very close to his chest. That’s literally not come on the table. He just looks at you in a way that says ‘I’m not giving anything away on this’. That’s the way he’s been looking at it and that’s fine. I’m sure at some stage this week he’ll have a chat with the people around him and see what they say. I am playing with Nicolas this week so I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t ask me a few things.”
All three were part of the backroom team masterminding Europe’s victory at Celtic Manor two years ago and bring a wealth of experience to the European cause.
“Obviously I am delighted to be part of the team again to help in whatever small way that I can, and José María and I have been friends for a very, very long time,” said Clarke. “I was honoured that he asked me.
“Right now, the ten players that are in at the moment, there are no rookies in those top ten, which I believe is the first time that's ever happened. So it's a very strong team. But against that, the American Team would probably be the team that's in form more at the moment. So consequently, we'll probably be slight underdogs going to America. It will be fantastic to be there, to be part of it and try to help in whatever way I can.”
With Sergio Garcia winning the Wyndham Championship in America on Sunday to seal his place in the team, Colsaerts is now the only player capable of forcing his way into the ten automatic qualifiers, needing a win or second place with no more than two other players to catch Martin Kaymer, but there are plenty of other candidates who could catch Olazábal’s eye with a victory in Scotland, just as Edoardo Molinari did two years ago.
On that occasion the Italian won the final event with such an impressive performance that Captain Colin Montgomerie picked him as one of his wild cards. The likes of Lynn, Rafael Cabrera-Bello and co will be hoping for something similar.
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