Team Europe gets royal seal of approval

02/10/2012 14:03:28
José María Olazábal looks over the glowing praise himself and his team have received  (Getty Images)
José María Olazábal looks over the glowing praise himself and his team have received (Getty Images)

As all of Europe continues to celebrate José María Olazábal and his team’s remarkable victory in The Ryder Cup at Medinah last Sunday, the Spanish Captain revealed he had received a very special call of congratulations from the King of Spain, Juan Carlos I.

With the dust only just beginning to settle after an astonishing final day in which Team Europe overturned a four point deficit to triumph 14 ½ - 13 ½ over the American side to win The Ryder Cup for a fifth time in ten years, Olazábal said the victory had now been given a Spanish royal seal of approval.

“I’m still riding the wave,” said Olazábal during a press conference at London Heathrow’s Sofitel Hotel after the Captain, selected Vice Captains and players had on Monday returned the Samuel Ryder Trophy to European shores one week after journeying to Chicago.

“It’s been an emotional week – and a tough one to begin with – but obviously the outcome of it was just wonderful.

“The phone has been really hot and out of all the messages I have to say that there was one that stunned me a bit. The King of Spain just called me a few minutes ago before we got here and he was pretty much like me, over the moon so that was very nice to hear.”

Over its 85 year history the competition has provided both drama and theatre of the highest calibre not just in golfing terms but across a wider sporting spectrum.

The events of last week, and the enthralling manner in which the 39th edition culminated in Illinois, certainly lived up to that billing and will undoubtedly live long in the memory, with Olazábal and his 12 charges’ performances providing possibly the greatest Ryder Cup of all time.

While history will determine whether that is the case, it is fact to say that never before has a European team come back from a 10-6 deficit to win. The Americans performed an identical about-turn on the final day in 1999, but that was on home soil at Brookline in Boston.

“It's really tough on your nerves, but that's the beauty of The Ryder Cup,” Olazábal reflected on his tenure as Captain. “It's a huge adrenaline flow and that's what we live for to be honest - the pressure, the tension the adrenaline flow makes us feel alive.

"I don't know if it (the comeback) is a miracle, but it's something extraordinary to be honest.

"What the players achieved that day was just amazing. It's up to you to decide if it's the greatest moment or the greatest comeback in history but they (the players) deserve all the credit."

Joining Olazábal in London was Nicolas Colsaerts, who produced one of the most memorable debut performances in Ryder Cup history during the Friday afternoon fourball session, when the Belgian carded eight birdies and an eagle to defeat Steve Stricker and Tiger Woods and claim an invaluable point for Europe alongside Lee Westwood.  

Two days after the incredible scenes that unfolded on Medinah’s No. 3 Course, the 29 year old was still full of the glow of victory.

“This was an unbelievable experience,” said big-hitting Colsaerts. “I feel so lucky that I was given the chance to be part of such an emotional ride.

“From trying to get into the team, to the announcement, the thinking and wondering about what it was all going to be like, to actually discovering the atmosphere when I was actually there and playing on Friday.

“I’m in the same state that our Captain is in – you can hear that my voice is bad! – it’s hard to describe but it was a very, very special week for me.”

As well as his call from the Spanish sovereign, the 2012 Captain said he had received congratulations from across the world, including from 11–time tennis Grand Slam Champion Rafael Nadal, but despite the glorious accomplishment and all the plaudits it has brought, Olazábal confirmed he would not be looking to take on the captaincy again.

He claimed there were plenty of other worthy candidates, though, pointing to the likes of Thomas Björn, Darren Clarke, Paul Lawrie, Paul McGinley, Padraig Harrington and Lee Westwood.

"I think all of those guys deserve that position, so we have many people who should be Ryder Cup Captains of the future."