Last September, Jose Maria Olazabal led Europe to one of the most scintillating final-round comebacks in Ryder Cup history.
Eight months after the ‘Miracle of Medinah’, we spoke to the European captain to get his thoughts on a truly memorable contest….
GM: How proud were you when you found out you’d been chosen as captain?
JM: It’s a great honour and I was really proud to be chosen, but at the same time the responsibility is huge, and you realise that as time goes by. From the moment you are elected as Ryder Cup captain, you have to be really careful about the things you do, say, you have to be really close to the players and it takes a lot of your time. It’s a huge responsibility.
GM: Do people underestimate how much it takes out of you?
JM: Absolutely. Personally I didn’t realise that until it happened. It demands a lot of your time. It doesn’t matter where you are, of if you’re at home relaxing, you get phone calls, emails regarding certain issues – often issues that you often thought were under control. It takes a lot of time. Your mindset is pretty much 100% concentrated on that and you cannot really focus on other things. At least that’s what happened to me. Even though I was playing tournaments regularly, my mind wasn’t set on the golf course. There were just too many things going through my head.
GM: Was there any point on Saturday afternoon that you thought it was over? Did you ever give up hope?
JM: To be totally honest, I thought early in the afternoon session on Sunday, when we were losing three and tieing in one, that it was pretty much over. But the boys did fantastically to come back and fight all the way. We managed to win the last two and we actually had a good chance of tieing the third. I think that was crucial. I always thought that they were vital – they gave us hope, not just by winning them but the way it happened, especially with Ian. Birdieing the final five holes, and knowing that they were a must because the US team had shorter birdie putts that were pretty much conceded, knowing that, on top of all the pressure that goes around it, it was just amazing. I’ve never seen anything like it in the Ryder Cup before.