European Ryder Cup skipper José María Olazábal does not believe that Tiger Woods is finished as a major competitor.
In a wide-ranging interview with MARCA’s Gerardo Riquelme, the Basque was asked if things would be different now that Woods appears to have lost his aura of invincibility.
But Olazábal said: “Well Tiger will still go on being Tiger and Mickelson will go on being Mickelson. No one on the European team will be afraid to play Tiger, no, but they do know that he is going to be very difficult to beat. He’s not playing like some nobody.
“In fact, if you look closely at Tiger you can see that he is playing much better, much more consistently off the tee and he’s been in the mix for the last few weeks. They are not going to be afraid of him but they will respect him.”
As for the arrival of the McIlroy Era, Olazábal added: “Golf has eras that last two or three years and then suddenly those eras end and others come along. And then they come back again.
“I don’t believe that the Tiger era or the Mickelson era has ended. I’m convinced that they can continue winning majors.”
He also revealed he’s spoken recently to his old partner Seve Ballesteros - in daydreams.
“I’ve dreamt about playing with Seve in the Ryder Cup many times. I’ve spoken to him in those nebulous, hazy moments you have. I imagine it’s because the Ryder Cup is near.”
Q Have you imagined how Seve would act in certain circumstances?
JMO: We spoke a few times when he was ill and I went to visit him at home. At the end of the day you are speaking to someone who has all the experience in the world and he says, ‘Look, the only thing you can do is create a situation where the players are as happy and relaxed as they can be and they can enjoy the moment. You can do no more than that. They are the ones who have to play and you can’t do your head in worrying about this or that. In the end it all comes down to a few putts going in and players hitting the right shot at the right time.”
Olazábal also revealed his thinking on his wildcards, revealing that Miguel Ángel Jiménez was in his thinking until the final qualifying event, the Johnnie Walker championship at Gleneagles.
“Him and Thomas Bjorn were among the candidates until the last day. If either of them had won in Gleneagles, the wildcards might have been different.”
As for his fear of failure, Olazabal accepts that the captain will always be the goat if the team loses.
“If we win, the players win and if we lose, I imagine it will be the captain that will lose,” he said. “It’s just something you have to live with.”