Olazabal dismisses gamesmanship talk

The Bolton News: Jose Maria Olazabal at the Ryder Cup opening ceremony (AP) Jose Maria Olazabal at the Ryder Cup opening ceremony (AP)

European captain Jose Maria Olazabal has bridled at suggestions that he or the late Seve Ballesteros had indulged in gamesmanship in the Ryder Cup.

Olazabal and Ballesteros formed the most successful partnership in the event's history, winning 11 of their 15 matches together, halving two and losing just two. Ballesteros, who died in May last year after a long battle with cancer, went on to captain Europe to victory in his native Spain in 1997, while Olazabal is following in his fellow Spaniard's footsteps this week at Medinah.

The mere mention of Ballesteros' name brought tears to Olazabal's eyes during Thursday's opening ceremony, after which he was asked if Ballesteros had taught him anything about gamesmanship. "Have you ever seen me showing any kind of gamesmanship on the golf course?" Olazabal said. "All right. So he didn't teach me well, did he?"

He added: "No, that was not the spirit of the Ryder Cup. That was not his idea at all. It's true that sometimes he (Ballesteros) had certain tics, but he never did it on purpose.

"If anyone thinks that way, well, sorry. But I don't think I've shown any gamesmanship in my career."

On a more positive note, Olazabal was also asked what advice Ballesteros would give him.

"Just play hard, play with passion and win the damn points," added Olazabal, who caused no surprises by pairing Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell, Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood and Francesco Molinari, and Ian Poulter and Justin Rose.

Told that Molinari's inclusion as an eighth different partner for Westwood in his eighth appearance was somewhat surprising, Olazabal added: "Well it might surprise you, but when you look at Francesco's game, he's a steady player. He very rarely misses a shot. He's straight off the tee. He hits good iron shots.

"And that's pretty much what you look for when you are playing foursomes. So you have to have the guys that are consistent and I felt that Francesco is one of those guys."

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