Ryder Cup: Players ready to give all for ‘inspirational’ Olazabal

PAUL Lawrie has hailed the inspirational qualities of Jose Maria Olazabal, the European captain, and reckons the Americans are in for a nasty shock if they are expecting his team to lack their customary morale in the 39th Ryder Cup starting today at Medinah.

The Aberdonian, who was on the losing side at Brookline 13 years ago on his only other appearance in the event, is confident Olazabal can lead Europe to victory at Medinah, where the Europeans are paying tribute to Seve Ballesteros by bearing his silhoutte on their bags and are also expected to wear his trademark dark blue and white in the singles on Sunday.

“Olly got a little emotional last night in the team room, showing what it means to him,” said Lawrie. “He spoke about Seve and what it meant to play with him. How Seve called him up when he was just 16 to play an exhibition and playing with Seve in all the Ryder Cups. You could see why he would get emotional.”

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Asked to pick out some of the Spaniard’s main qualities, he added: “It’s everything he’s been doing, on the course and the way he speaks to you. You just want to do well for the man. He’s inspiring, unbelievable. Everyone feels the same about him. When someone like that speaks to you and gives you that kind of message, to give your all, the boys get a wee bit emotional, too, and that’s brilliant.”

At last night’s opening ceremony, Olazabal and his American counterpart Davis Love III named their pairings for today’s foursomes and Lawrie was one of the players to miss out. Olazabal will send out Northern Irish duo Rory McIlroy, the world No 1, and Graeme McDowell first to face Jim Furyk and Brandt Snedeker.

The second match sees Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley take on Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia. They will be followed by Zach Johnson and Jason Dufner versus Lee Westwood and Francesco Molinari. The final match-up sees Steve Stricker and Tiger Woods facing Ian Poulter and Justin Rose. The pairings for the afternoon fourballs will be announced during the morning’s play.

Of the European team, only three players – Lawrie, Nicolas Colsaerts and Molinari – were on the official charter that flew into Illinois on Monday, the rest having either been involved in the Tour Championship in Atlanta or travelled to Chicago from their homes in Florida. The American media have used that as a tool to question whether there will still be the same team spirit in the European camp but Lawrie is adamant it’s as strong as ever. “There’s more banter and more fun going on than the last time I played,” he insisted. “Someone asked earlier in the week if not everyone arriving on the plane together would affect our team spirit. Well, if you’re in that room you can’t believe team morale would not be good. It’s just brilliant.”

TODAY

Opening foursomes matches (at 15-minute intervals),

from 7:20am (1.20pm BST)

Opening fourball matches (at 15-minute intervals),

from 12:05pm (6.05pm BST)

TOMORROW

Foursomes matches (at 15-minute intervals)

from 7:20am (1.20pm BST)

Fourball matches (at 15-minute intervals)

from 12:05pm (6.05pm BST)

SUNDAY

Singles matches (at 11-minute intervals)

from 11:03am (5.03pm BST)

Closing ceremony, from 5:30pm (11.30pm BST)

ODDS

USA 8-13, Europe 6-4