Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Ollie's Anger at Claims Seve Told Him How to Get under Rivals' Skin

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Ollie's Anger at Claims Seve Told Him How to Get under Rivals' Skin

Article excerpt

Byline: David Smith. Sports Correspondent

EUROPEAN Ryder Cup captain Jose Maria Olazabal led his team into the defence of the trophy today after reacting angrily to suggestions he might have passed tips about gamesmanship to his players which were said to have been taught to him by Seve Ballesteros.

Olazabal and close friend Ballesteros, the golf legend who lost a long battle with cancer last year at the age of just 54, formed one of the most successful partnerships in Ryder Cup history.

Together, the two Spaniards won a total of 12 points from a possible 15, and Olazabal shed tears when the contribution made by Ballesteros to the success of the Ryder Cup was saluted during the opening ceremony to the 39th edition of the tournament at Medinah, near Chicago, last night.

However, during this week's build-up to the Ryder Cup, American television broadcast documentaries and engaged in discussions highlighting what was perceived to be unsportsmanlike behaviour exhibited by Ballesteros. Typical of the observations were those made by Curtis Strange, who played in five Ryder Cups and captained the losing United States team at the Belfry in 2002.

Strange, 57, was contributing to ESPN's coverage of the opening day of the competition and he suggested gamesmanship was part of the Ryder Cup "especially in Seve's case".

He said: "You've heard of him coughing.

That happened every time. Stretching matchplay rules, he just got under your skin. He thrived on it."

In his final pre-tournament press conference, held after revealing his pairings for the opening round of foursomes, Olazabal was asked if Ballesteros had tutored him in gamesmanship, and if he had passed on anything he had learned.

The 46-year-old two-times Major champion, one of the most respected figures in world golf, visibly bridled at the question and replied: "Have you ever seen me showing any kind of gamesmanship on the golf course?" When no examples were offered, Olazabal added: "All right, so he didn't teach me very well, did he! That was not in the spirit of the Ryder Cup. That was not his idea at all. …

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