Happy birthday José María Olazábal
From winning 20.5points for Team Europe across seven Ryder Cup appearances to captaining the side during one of Europe’s greatest ever comebacks, José María Olazábal has enjoyed a successful and emotional Ryder Cup career.
As he turns 54 today, we take a look back at the two-time Masters champion’s career as part of Team Europe as both a player and captain.
Featuring seven times as a player between 1987 and 2006, Olazábal formed a formidable partnership with fellow countryman Seve Ballesteros across 15 matches together.
His first appearance for Team Europe came under Tony Jacklin, as one of his captain’s picks. He quickly formed a strong partnership with Seve as they won their opening foursomes match 1up against Larry Nelson and Payne Stewart.
And from there they never looked back.
Playing 15 matches together and collecting 12 points – winning 11, losing two and halving two – the Spanish duo are by far and away Europe’s most successful partnership to date. In fact, their nearest competitors are the partnerships of Darren Clarke and Lee Westwood and Sir Nick Faldo and Ian Woosnam with six points won.
Olazábal also ties the record for most fourball points won, alongside Woosnam, with 10.5 points earned for Team Europe. He also sits seventh in terms of most points won while wearing the European colours with 20.5points.
However, Olazábal still classes his stint as captain in 2012 as the best moment of his career.
Famously known as the ‘Miracle of Medinah,’ Olazábal’s European side completed the largest comeback in European Ryder Cup history and the largest comeback from either team on foreign soil.
Trailing 10-6 heading into the final 12 singles matches on Sunday, Olazábal knew his side had a mammoth task on their hands.
However, with the late Seve Ballesteros looking down on Team Europe, they won 8.5 of the 12 points up for grabs.
Martin Kaymer holed a five-foot putt on the 18th green to defeat Steve Stricker and earn the point required to retain the trophy.
An emotional Olazábal couldn’t quite believe what he had witnessed and was reduced to tears as Kaymer rolled home his putt.
In the following final group, Francesco Molinari’s half point against Tiger Woods saw Europe win The 2012 Ryder Cup and complete the history-making comeback.
One fact you may not know about the 54-year-old Spaniard, however:
Olazábal holds the world record for the longest putt ever holed, which was completed during the 1999 Ryder Cup team’s Concorde flight to the United States, draining a putt the entire length of the cabin.
The ball was in motion for 26.17 seconds meaning the Concorde, travelling at 1,270mph, had travelled 9.232 miles.
As one of Europe’s greatest ever Ryder Cup players, all we can say is feliz cumpleaños!