Olazabal insist there is no bad blood
Golf:Jose Maria Olazabal insisted today that if he omits Padraig Harrington from his Ryder Cup team it will have nothing to do with their clash in Spain nine years ago. Olazabal fell out with Harrington at the 2003 Seve Trophy, feeling his integrity had been questioned over the repairing of marks on a green before he putted.
Now one is Europe’s captain and Ireland’s three-major winner, handed a wild card by Colin Montgomerie two years ago, is trying to impress his former team-mate. “If people believe that is interfering with my judgment then first of all they are completely wrong — if that was the case I’d be failing as a captain,” Olazabal said at Gleneagles, where he will name his two wild cards on Monday.
“That is a lot of bs (b*******). There is not a single bit of truth in that — I am looking at players, what they have done and I want to get the best players for that team, whoever they might be.”
Even when Harrington opened the first of the FedEx Cup play-off events with a pacesetting 64 yesterday Olazabal raised eyebrows by saying the Dubliner needed “at least a win” on his eve of his decision. Big-hitting Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts is thought to be favourite for the second captain’s pick, the first appearing certain to be ear-marked for Ian Poulter.
But Colsaerts can still force his way into an automatic spot with a top two finish at the Johnnie Walker Championship in Scotland. The 29-year-old is 12th on the points list and Harrington 19th, but he has come back to form with finishes of fourth in the US Open and eighth in The Masters this season and in New York he led a field containing 23 of the world’s top 25 players.
“He’s as close as some other players, not closer — simple as that,” added Olazabal when asked about where Harrington stood in his thoughts. “If you look at the list he’s well down there. It’s going to be interesting to see what happens at the weekend — I will keep an eye on any player that plays well.
“The thing is that Padraig unfortunately is well back. Obviously he needs to do extraordinary well, but I will have to look at other things also, as simple as that. You can’t judge a player by one tournament.”
Counting against Harrington is the fact that Olazabal is not in dire need of adding an old hand to his line-up for Chicago. “We have plenty of experience. Look at the team at the moment — there is not a single rookie in there — so we will see how many rookies we get when I pick the players,” he said.
“I don’t think we are lacking experience. That is not as important this time around. It’s a long course and there was not much rough when we went there last week. Obviously it’s a long-hitter’s course — that’s another factor.”