Thomas Björn described the appointment of José Maria Olazábal as 2012 European Ryder Cup Captain as the easiest decision he has ever had to make and we asked some of the leading players for their reaction to the news.
Björn, Chairman of the Tournament Committee, said: “He is highly respected from his fellow professionals, his determination in Ryder Cups, that goes back to the 80s; I think in today's game, he is probably one of the very few players that all of the players on Tour associate with what The Ryder Cup is all about, the passion and the determination. So we are very proud as players to stand behind this captain and look forward to seeing him going to Medinah and keep the trophy on this side of the Atlantic.”
Lee Westwood, the World Number One, said: "I am delighted for him. The best way to sum up Ollie is to ask if you have ever heard a bad word said about him and the answer is no. Everybody likes him, everyone respects him. He has a great record in The Ryder Cup and when he played with Seve in those early years, some of that passion will have rubbed off on Ollie and he will be a fantastic captain. He has had many great moments, like when he danced on the green at Muirfield Village. I am excited about his captaincy. He has been great as a vice-captain, a couple of his team talks have almost had the team in tears, and it will be interesting to see how he goes about it."
Martin Kaymer, the European Number One and US PGA Champion, said: “He and Seve were the guys who inspired me for The Ryder Cup and it was only a matter of time before he was made Captain. For us, not only will it be a pleasure but a lot of fun and we can learn a lot. Knowing he is the Captain gives me a bit of extra motivation to be in the team in two years’ time. I remember Seve and Ollie even up to 1997 when they were there together like brothers. That’s what The Ryder Cup is all about and I think if we could choose, we would like Seve and Ollie every two years as Captains! It feels like the Ryder Cup is his life. Listening to him talking, yes it is the most important event we play every second year, but when he talks to you and the way he talks about The Ryder Cup makes that week feel like the most important week of your life. It is very special the way he talks, the words he chooses. You have a lot of respect for him not only as an athlete and a golfer but just the way he is as a person and that is a great combination for a Ryder Cup Captain.”
Graeme McDowell, the US Open Champion, said: “I've had the pleasure of being in team rooms with José the last two Ryder Cups now. He was a big part of the reason why I played so well at Valhalla a few years ago. He took me under his wing that week. A couple of the big highlights of Valhalla in the team room were speeches that José made. He's a very honest, very emotional, very open guy. I got to know him very well that week, and you know, he's just a legend regards his playing capabilities and the kind of person that he is, as well. So I think he's going to be a great Ryder Cup Captain. He's a perfect captain for the States. He's loved all over the world, and obviously a two time Masters Champion. I think he's going to be a great talisman for the European Ryder Cup Team. I'll be desperate to be part of that team room because I know he'll inspire and he will motivate and he will bring a lot of passion and emotion to the team.”
Ian Poulter, another of Europe’s victorious 2010 Ryder Cup Team, added: “I think it's awesome. Ollie has kind of been there the last couple of matches and nobody has more passion for The Ryder Cup than Ollie. So to me, that's very refreshing that he's taken that position. And it's going to be very, very exciting to try to make that side. I mean, that will be awesome to play for him. His speech in Kentucky was as good a speech as I've heard from a Ryder Cup Captain or vice captain. He has everybody's attention from start to finish. He's very thoughtful. He's very passionate, and everything he says is very valid. He's got more passion than anyone else for The Ryder Cup, and that says everything. Just the few things he said were said from the heart, and you just have to do rerun after rerun of Seve and Ollie just to know that it means everything to him, and that's all you really need from a captain. So he will just do an incredible job. It would be an honour to make the side. Looking back at the first Ryder Cup I watched, the Belfry back in '93, when Seve and Ollie were at their best, they were The Ryder Cup. You cut either one in half and it will say Ryder Cup. You saw that from the first tee to the 18th hole. They had some incredible matches. They were pretty much unbeatable.”
Francesco Molinari, who with Edoardo made history as the first continental European brothers to play in The Ryder Cup, said: “We were lucky enough to be followed by him in the last Ryder Cup. He has a great passion for the game and the Ryder Cup especially. I am sure he is going to be the perfect man to captain the team. He has had a lot of success in the States which will help. He is just a great guy who has achieved so much in golf. A lot of our generation look up to him like an idol. Everyone will listen to what he says and he will be in inspiration for the team. He is so much part of the history of The Ryder Cup and has won so many matched with Seve. He knows what it takes. I am thrilled at having the chance to be a part of his team and will be doing all I can to make it.”
Edoardo Molinari, the other half of that terrific partnership, said: “I am very happy for him and it is the best possible Captain. He was great for Francesco and I and followed our games and was very helpful. He made a great speech on night before the singles and he was a great help for Colin and the other vice captains. He deserves it, plus he is one of the European Tour legends. Like Colin, he has a lot of experience in Ryder Cups, has so much experience and won so many matches, and as I said, he is a legend. He has also won in the United States and it will be great to have him leading us in the States. He was so encouraging walking with us at Celtic Manor. Just to know you have a guy of his experience and charisma by your side is a huge help for the team.”