Captain's ordeal: Olazabal recalls 'torture' of watching fightback
JOSÉ-MARIA Olazabal, Europe’s victorious Ryder Cup captain, has recalled the “torture” of watching his side overturn the USA side at Medinah.
Olazabal cut a consistently emotional figure as Europe recovered from 10-6 down at the start of the final day to defeat the USA team by a point in a comeback widely recognised as one of the finest in Ryder Cup history.
The Spaniard, however, has admitted how difficult the thrilling finale was to preside over. “You go through hell,” he said. “It was torture. You cannot do anything about it, you don’t hit the shots, you don’t have any control on the outcome – the matches. It’s hell, it’s just torture. I was looking at the matches, looking at the players hitting shots.
“One minute you’re thinking: ‘Right that’s it, it’s over’ and the next minute it’s: ‘Hang about, we still have a chance’. It is very hard.”
Olazabal led the small European delegation which left Chicago for London yesterday morning. The remainder of Europe’s team have homes or bases in the United States. The captain also revealed he has deliberately avoided messages of congratulations sent to him.
The European side enjoyed a celebratory party in their hotel from Sunday night through to the early hours of Monday morning.
“I didn’t answer the phone, I just wanted to have time to myself,” added Olazabal. “I’m going to wait until I go back home. I’m sure it will take a day or so to get through the messages. I did not sleep on Sunday night, I went back to the room and I just couldn’t sleep.
“I actually had a couple of glasses of Spanish wine for dinner and then one gin and tonic. And that was it. We all had dinner together. We spent quite a bit of the night together. Everyone was there.
“Everybody behaved. Obviously there were guys who had a couple of drinks but it was not wild. Everyone was really tired. It has been a long week. It was really tough and heavy. I think everyone was just relieved with the outcome, they were just enjoying it.”
Olazabal was left to reflect yesterday on the turning point of the 39th Ryder Cup. “We all know how crucial that Saturday afternoon session was,” he said. “To win those last two points gave us hope. Even though we were four points behind that gave us hope. More than anything else it changed the momentum. It changed the tie. All of a sudden the players felt that listen maybe this is the start of a good day tomorrow.
“You look at the leaderboard on Sunday and the first five matches were European blue. When I saw that I was standing on the 12th tee waiting for Lee Westwood to come. I started to do the math and I thought: ‘Listen, this might happen’. I’ll remember that for a long time.”
– EWAN MURRAY