x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Jose Maria Olazabal will hold fire on wild-card picks

The Spaniard, Europe's Ryder Cup captain, will delay any decision regarding his two picks until the completion of The Barclays tournament in Farmingdale, New York in late August.

Jose Maria Olazabal, the European Ryder Cup captain, speaks at a news conference held in Abu Dhabi yesterday.
Jose Maria Olazabal, the European Ryder Cup captain, speaks at a news conference held in Abu Dhabi yesterday.

ABU DHABI // Jose Maria Olazabal, Europe's Ryder Cup captain, will delay any decision regarding his two wild-card picks until the completion of The Barclays tournament in Farmingdale, New York in late August, he said yesterday.

The move is designed to avoid the regrettable situation that occurred when Colin Montgomerie, the 2010 captain, selected his wild cards at the close of European qualifying in Scotland, leaving Paul Casey, who was completing his final round at The Barclays, to discover he had missed out on selection while on the course.

During an official Ryder Cup press conference ahead of the Abu Dhabi Golf Championships, Olazabal, joined by George O'Grady, the chief executive of the European Tour, and Richard Hills, the Ryder Cup director, said he would hold off before making his decision.

"I talked about it with George and with the team and, I think the scenario the last time was a delicate one, especially for the captain and also for the players playing in the States," Olazabal said. "We have made the decision regarding that and it's going to be the Monday following Gleneagles. So we are going to wait until whatever happens in the States before we make the decision."

The Johnnie Walker Championship takes place at Gleneagles this year between August 23 and 26. Olazabal said the announcement would be made on August 27, with O'Grady adding it would allow the Scottish tournament to "get a fair shot" and avoid the culmination of the event "being buried in the Ryder Cup news".

Casey was openly critical of the way in which he had learnt of his omission, but Olazabal said the decision has been "independent to that".

"Looking at it when it happened, it was not a comfortable situation for anybody," Olazabal said. "For anybody that is playing in the States, that might be on the verge of winning that tournament and [improving his] chance of being in the team; I think it would be completely unfair to name those two picks before the guy even tees off."

Montgomerie's vice-captain was Sergio Garcia and after a strong end to 2011, the 32 year old is aiming to fight his way back into the reckoning. "Ryder Cup is a big part of my year," Garcia said. "You all know how important the Ryder Cup is for me. So that's one of the goals: to make the team. It would be great to be back into the European Team."

The Spaniard added: "I've been fortunate enough to play five times. I have pretty much gone through every emotion that you can go through in the Ryder Cup. So being a vice-captain was a good experience, but it was very tough because you can't do anything."

 

gmeenaghan@thenational.ae