“I believe” says defiant Olazábal
Despite taking a four point deficit into the final day of The 2012 Ryder Cup, European Captain José María Olazábal asserted his belief that an extraordinary European comeback was still possible as Luke Donald was selected to lead out his side in the Sunday Singles matches.
After Ian Poulter’s last ditch heroics had garnered a sixth valuable point to keep his team in with a chance of overhauling the Americans on Sunday, Olazábal also espoused the virtues of his late friend Seve Ballesteros’ never say die attitude.
“I believe,” said Olazábal with an emphatic pause, “that it's not over.
“That's what I learned from Seve, and that's what I'm going to try to pass to the players. It's not over until it's over. There are 12 matches to be played tomorrow. Of course we have a tough task ahead, but it's not over; it’s as simple as that.”
It was the end of a difficult day for Olazábal and his team, having again surrendered five points from the eight matches on Saturday, but the European Captain said his team could take a lot from the dramatic climax.
“Obviously today was not a great day for us overall but it was a great finish I have to say,” Olazábal reflected after Medinah Country Club had again hosted an enthralling set of matches. “I think everyone realised what The Ryder Cup was all about when you saw those last three matches this afternoon, the level of the game that was played and the intensity. That's why The Ryder Cup is what it is.”
World Number Three Luke Donald was selected by Olazábal to headline Europe’s line-up in the singles matches on Sunday as the Englishman will take on Bubba Watson at 1103 local time, as the Spaniard chose to pack the top half of the draw with his form players.
“Well we couldn't hide anything, we are trailing four points,” said Olazábal. “We have to put the players that are playing well out there. We knew that they [the Americans] would know that. But at the end of the day, if we want to win this match, we have to take their big guns down.
“And that's what they've done, they've put all the players that have been playing really well this week up there. Hopefully tomorrow will be a different day.”
With Europe needing to claim eight points from the 12 matches on Sunday and the Americans also selecting a strong opening line-up, Olazábal picked Poulter, McIlroy and Rose in the first four ties as the draw threw up some intriguing ties.
In the event that the contest came down to the final match on Sunday, it would be Francesco Molinari tasked with the job of winning it for the Europeans as the Italian goes head-to-head with 14-time Major Champion Tiger Woods in the last match off at 1304.
Olazábal also took time to pay a stirring and heartfelt tribute to the talismanic Poulter, after the Englishman birdied the final five holes to beat Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker in the afternoon fourballs.
“I think the Ryder Cup should build a statue for him. You know, that's Poulter. That's why we say that he has such a special character for this event. He thrives at this event. He loves to be on the spotlight. He loves to be in that kind of situations.
“What he did today was just outstanding, period. Just amazing. The way he played those last few holes, making those clutch putts, that is the expression of The Ryder Cup.”