Etna orange heralds red hot Europe?
José María Olazábal and his 12-man European team gathered in the pale light of dawn for the traditional pre-competition team photographs on Tuesday morning at Medinah Country Club.
Not long after the sun had emerged over the tree-lined Illinois layout on a chilly but pleasant morning, the European side converged in the shadow of the imposing Medinah clubhouse as the waiting world got a first glance at the 2012 squad in its entirety.
Olazábal, clutching the precious Samuel Ryder Trophy, led out his dozen charges firstly in navy Pro-Quip jackets for the initial shots, with affairs being co-ordinated by legendary golf photographer David Cannon plus hoards of additional snappers, media, onlookers and fans gathered for the occasion.
The jackets were removed to reveal the team outfits for Tuesday’s practice day, provided – as has been the case for the last 25 years – by Scottish clothing manufacturer Glenmuir, with Lee Westwood and co. sporting ‘Etna’ orange tops, navy trousers and white shoes.
There were the team photographs with Olazábal in the front and centre, with plenty of good-natured banter, jokes and high spirits on display as laughter broke out after Graeme McDowell was told by Cannon that his legs were too far apart. There were chuckles, too, when Rory McIlroy was asked to swap places with Luke Donald to resolve a minor height issue, as the team bond and unique camaraderie appeared to be developing fast on the outskirts of Chicago.
The traditional pictures with the special team golf bags followed as white bases were endowed with the famous silhouette of the late, great Seve Ballesteros adorning the top portions – a tribute to the Spaniard as Europe prepare for the first Ryder Cup since his passing last year.
Vice Captains, physios, caddies and more joined the fray with more good humour as Ian Poulter’s caddie Terry Mundy elicited a domino-esque toppling of his fellow bag-men.
But the defining image at the close of proceedings was undoubtedly of Olazábal. Alone at the close with his Captain’s golf bag, and the trophy.
The Spaniard won’t strike a ball this week but he will be as important as any member of the team, tasked with inspiring upon his troops the will, desire and spirit to claim a glorious triumph at Medinah.