José María Olazábal believes that Paul McGinley’s ability to say the right thing, in the right way at the right time was one of the keys to his successful bid for the Ryder Cup captaincy.
But when it comes to word power, the two-time Masters champion insists that if compatriot Miguel Ángel Jiménez must improve his English or give up all hope of becoming the third Spaniard to captain a European team.
Speaking in Abu Dhabi last week, Olazábal told the Spanish portal Tengolf.es: “It was the right decision to select Paul. I know he’s the right man for the job judging by my experience with him at Medinah.
“He did the last two Ryder Cups as a vice-captain, he’s got all the bases covered, he has tons of information, he’s great with all the little details, he knows the players very well and all their weak points and is very good with people.
“That’s very important in a tense situation like a Ryder Cup. It’s crucial to be able to say the right thing in the right way at the right time to the players in a way that doesn’t irritate them but brings out the best in them.
“Apart from that he’s a player who has been on the circuit for many years and has the respect of all the players as we saw in the lead up to the announcement when players such as Rory, Poulter and Luke said they’d be delighted to play for him.
“I think it’s a brilliant choice.”
Olazábal added: “Since 1997 we haven’t had a repeat captain and it’s gone very well for us. I think all these elements have to be taken into account and these small details contribute to making the team more unified and more determined.”
On Colin Montgomerie’s late bid for the job, Olazabal explained: “The match is in Scotland and all that but Monty had done it before and we have a generation of players who have done things very well and sooner or later they are going to be Ryder Cup captains. If we started giving people a second captaincy we are going to be overlooking these people and that seems unfair to me.”
Many believe that Jiménez deserves consideration for the captaincy but when asked if he saw the man from Malaga taking over in the future, Olazábal said: “He has to be close. Considering his age, he’s 49, he’s still competitive but time marches on and I’ve always believe the captain has to be close to the players.
“In that sense, Miguel has all the qualities you need in a captain but to be honest with you, and we’ve spoken about this, the language barrier is there. That’s important.
“If he could improve that aspect of things, he could be captain.”
Asked if he could see Jiménez taking English classes, Olazábal said: “Well, listen, he still goes to the gym and works hard to remain competitive. It depends on the how much illusion he has and how determined he is to be Ryder Cup captain, but I wouldn’t rule it out.”