OLAZABAL, in my opinion, will be one of the very greatest of Ryder Cup captains – you only have to remember his diplomacy at Brookline, after his singles match against Justin Leonard, and the passion he showed during his own magnificent Cup-playing career to know that he will be a huge success.
Olazabal, too, has already had vital experience as a vice captain, to Nick Faldo at Valhalla in 2008, and by all accounts he was a major influence on all the European players in the team room. Ollie had the European players in tears in the Saturday-evening meeting just with his passion for the Ryder Cup and what it means to be chosen to represent your country and your continent. Indeed, I would go so far as to say he is a captain born and bred and that he could prove to be our best captain ever. That’s how strongly I rate him.
But then there are other excellent candidates, like Paul McGinley and Thomas Bjorn. Padraig Harrington, too, will one day be a great captain, as I’ve no doubt Colin Montgomerie will be this year at Celtic Manor. And I wonder how Lee Westwood or Darren Clarke would do the job, and, one day well into the future, Sergio Garcia?
It is also fascinating to imagine Tiger Woods as a Ryder Cup captain one day. He would be a tough captain to play under simply because he is so good a player that it might be difficult to impress him. But perhaps he would be inspirational for his players in the way I remember Jack Nicklaus once inspiring me during the 1987 match when he arrived at our game, when he was American captain, and I hit a fantastic mid iron, which was always the weaker part of my golf. Jack’s presence on the tee didn’t put me off – it made me want to hit an even better stroke.
Extracted from An Enduring Passion: My Ryder Cup Years by Sam Torrance, published by Mainstream in hardback at £16.99. Sam will be signing copies tomorrow at Waterstones, Jubilee Place, 12 noon, and on Wednesday at Waterstones, London Wall, 12.30, and Waterstones, Ludgate Circus, 3.15.