George O’Grady, Chief Executive of The European Tour, today welcomed the Spanish golfing media to a special luncheon in Madrid with the Ryder Cup Captain José María Olazábal.
Some 40 guests including representatives of Spanish TV, radio and written press along with Gonzaga Escauriaza, President of the Royal Spanish Golf Federation, and European Tour Executives attended the exclusive gathering at the Westin Palace Hotel in Madrid.
Olazábal will captain the European team seeking to retain The Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club, Illinois, USA, from September 28-30. But first he heads to Seville to compete in the Reale Seguros Open de España at Real Club de Golf de Seville for the historic centenary celebrations of Spain’s national open championship which also marked the very first European Tour event 40 years ago.
In welcoming the guests, O’Grady said: “We felt it was very important doing this today to recognize one of the greatest Captains we’ve ever had, José María Olazábal, in his year of captaincy here in Madrid and to be joined by all of you.
“It’s a changing world, also in terms of media and how things are reported and that’s one reason we wanted to have this gathering today with everybody who’s been in the business for quite a long time. Nuria Pastor, whose first tournament was in 1974, like me, is here. Severiano Ballesteros turned professional back then and their first Spanish Open was in 1974. Many of us here have been around a long time.
“A lot of things have changed, The European Tour has embraced the world, but there is no point in looking how we were yesterday or where we are today, we have to look into the future and look after our main market, our main business. We are facing a tough recession, along with the European banking crisis, but at the same time we have to point to the strength of The European Tour and the strength of golf in Europe. There are a lot of young players coming through, and we applaud the role of the local federations and the role of our top players, playing everywhere in the world following the footsteps of the great Severiano Ballesteros who opened that door for them.”
Gonzaga Escauriaza, President of the Royal Spanish Golf Federation, said: “We are very honoured to have you all here, all the members of The European Tour, the Captain of The Ryder Cup, José María Olazábal. We are extremely proud of his captaincy because of the legacy of all the good Spanish players like him and Severiano, who passed away last year. We are very lucky to have this continuity here in Spain.”