By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
European Ryder Cup Captain Jose Maria Olazabal and one of his charges, Sergio Garcia, made their second trips to Madrid's Palace de la Zarzuela on Tuesday. This time, though, the two Spaniard brought the Ryder Cup to their audience with King Juan Carlos I.
Olazabal, Garcia and vice captain Miguel Angel Jimenez also gave the King a signed shirt worn that Sunday at Medinah Country Club as the Europeans equaled the largest comeback in history as they stormed from four points behind to win the biennial competition.
“He made us feel very comfortable and at ease and it’s been a very nice conversation,” Olazábal told europeantour.com. “He said he was very pleased with the polo shirt from that famous Sunday which is history now and said he wanted it in his trophy cabinet. He said he watched a lot on TV but could not watch it entirely but he has asked us to send him the DVD which we will do.”
Olazabal made his first visit to the palace in 1994 with his family after the World Golf Hall of Famer won the Masters for the first time. He said he was honored to represent a team this time, and Olazabal said King Juan Carlos "touched my heart" when he mentioned the late Seve Ballesteros, perhaps Europe's greatest Ryder Cup player.
"He also talked about the performance of the Spanish players in The Ryder Cup, especially the passion we have put into the event," Olazabal said. "He was very knowledgeable.”
Olazábal later talked to reporters about some of the highlights of the match -- particularly the way Ian Poulter finished off his Four-ball match with Rory McIlroy, making birdie on the last five holes to earn a pivotal point for the Europeans.
“What Poulter did, especially on the Saturday, changed the heart of the rest of team,” Olazabal said. “When we got together on Saturday evening I could see on their faces there was a different look. There was a totally different atmosphere which was the key to the victory the following day.
“Then on Sunday there were so many emotions. Sergio recovering his match and winning that point was essential and then when Martin Kaymer holed that putt he closed the door to the American team."
Garcia, who teamed with Luke Donald on Saturday to beat Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker, was similarly impressed.
“Ian Poulter was amazing,” Garcia said. “He knows the meaning of The Ryder Cup and he lives for the Ryder Cup. It’s fantastic to have someone like him in the team, someone who can make the spirit turn at the right moment. If I had to choose one moment of the Ryder Cup it is quite difficult as there were so many highlights. But the last two points on Saturday were essential. Poulter’s putt on the 18th that evening and also Luke Donald’s tee shot on the 17th.
"But I still cannot shake from my mind Justin Rose’s putt on the 17th on Sunday, and finally Martin Kaymer’s putt was incredible."
Garcia said he and Olazabal talked with Kaymer, who had struggled with his revamped game and only played in one team match, on Saturday night. Kaymer and Garcia had breakfast together prior to the Singles, as well.
"I said to him if I had a wish, it would be for him to hole the putt which meant Europe won the Ryder Cup, and, of course, Martin did exactly that,” Garcia recalled.
MARANA, Ariz. – Turns out, this is a rematch of the playoff at the PGA Championship, won by Martin Kaymer. But that was then, and this is now.
Kaymer's world No. 1 aspirations are still alive. Bubba Watson still has a chance to win the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship in his first appearance, too.
All Kaymer needs to do is reach Sunday's championship match. If he does, win or lose, Kaymer will end Lee Westwood's reign at 17 weeks. First, though, he'll need to collect himself after a stumbling finish that saw a 4-up lead evaporate and Miguel Angel Jimenez take him to the 18th hole.
“Jimenez was "very difficult," Kaymer said. "But the way I played golf, at least the first 14, 15 holes was very good. I made a couple of really big mistakes, especially on 16. I had an 8-iron and I was lucky."
Kaymer got some extra time to steady himself, though, as Watson -- who had not trailed in his first three matches -- rallied from a 5-down deficit with eight holes remaining and beat J.B. Holmes on the first extra hole.
The momentum in the final quarterfinal match changed dramatically on the back nine as Holmes had to concede two holes and Watson made two birdies to close to 1 down at the 15th hole. Watson went on to win the match with clutch pars on Nos. 18 and 19 as Holmes had two costly adventures in the desert.
In stark contrast to the front nine, Watson was extremely loose over the last few holes, chatting with the crowd and cracking jokes. He plays better when he’s loose like that, and Watson needs to carry that feeling into the semifinal bout with the world No. 2.
Accenture Match Play Championship records: Kaymer is 6-3. Watson is 4-0.
MARANA, Ariz. — The latest on Saturday morning’s quarterfinal matches:
MARTIN KAYMER VS. MIGUEL ANGEL JIMENEZ — Kaymer may have led 4-up advantage at the 14th hole but this one went down to the wire. Jimenez won his third straight hole when Kaymer made his second straight bogey at the 17th hole. But the Spaniard missed the green at the 18th and Kaymer two-putted for par from 52 feet to win 1 up.
BUBBA WATSON VS. J.B. HOLMES — Watson made a 3-footer for birdie at the 15th hole to win his third straight hole and narrow the deficit to 1 down. The two halved the 16th with pars, then Watson lipped out a 7-footer at 17th that would have evened the match. So now it all comes down to the 18th.
Martin Kaymer sinks a 28-foot birdie putt on the par-5 11th hole in his quarterfinal win over Miguel Angel Jimenez.
|CLICK FOR SCORECARDS:||Martin Kaymer||Miguel Angel Jimenez|
MARANA, Ariz. -- Martin Kaymer is now one match win away from claiming the No. 1 spot in the Official World Golf Ranking.
By beating Miguel Angel Jimenez 1 up in Saturday morning's quarterfinals, Kaymer has now advanced to the Accenture Match Play semifinals for the first time in four starts in this event. He will play the winner of the J.B. Holmes-Bubba Watson match.
Should the German win his semifinal match, he not only will move into Sunday's final, he'll also assure himself of overtaking Lee Westwood at the top. Kaymer is currently No. 2 but only needs to reach the finals (not win it) to become No. 1.
The German put on a shot-making and putting clinic early, then had to withstand a furious rally by his Ryder Cup teammate from Spain down the stretch.
“The way I played golf, at least for the first 14 or 15 holes, was very good,” Kaymer said.
Kaymer hit 11 of his first 12 greens in regulation and also rolled in three putts outside 25 feet. The last of those came at the par-5 11th when Kaymer produced a birdie despite having to take a penalty stroke after his tee shot found the desert.
Kaymer ended up winning the hole, even though Jimenez had the huge advantage after their tee shots. “Absolutely crazy,” Kaymer said of the turn of events. “He made a mistake with the chip that he didn't give himself a chance for birdie and I holed a 25‑footer for birdie, so this was just very fortunate.”
After 14 holes, Kaymer was a bogey-free 5 under and led Jimenez 4 up.
But suddenly, Kaymer started hitting loose shots and the Spaniard clawed back into the match.
At the drivable par-4 15th, Kaymer found a greenside bunker with his tee shot and couldn't get on the green with his second shot. Meanwhile, Jimenez rolled in a birdie putt from outside 13 feet -- his only birdie on the back side -- to win the hole.
Kaymer then bogeyed the par-3 16th when he failed to get up and down from the primary rough after a poor tee shot. He bogeyed the 17th after another poor tee shot, followed by an approach that came up short of the green.
With Jimenez winning three straight holes, the match surprisingly went to the 18th hole, but Jimenez failed to find the green in regulation, giving him no chance at a birdie to extend the match.
“You kind of think it’s over, then all of the sudden, you make a couple of mistakes,” Kaymer said. “It was a little shaky in the end.” – Mike McAllister
MARANA, Ariz. — The latest on Saturday morning’s four quarterfinal matches:
MATT KUCHAR VS Y.E. YANG — Kuchar had a chance to end the match at the 16th hole but he couldn't convert the 13-footer for birdie. So Yang headed to the 17th with a sense of urgency -- he had to win to extend the match -- but Kuchar made a 4-footer for par and the win.
MARTIN KAYMER VS. MIGUEL ANGEL JIMENEZ — Kaymer made a 5-foot birdie putt at the 14th hole to go 5 up but Jimenez answered with a 13-footer at the next. The Spaniard won the par-3 16th, too, as both players missed the green. Jimenez chipped to 21 inches, which Kaymer conceded, and then the German missed his 10-footer for par. Kaymer leads 2 up with two holes remaining.
BUBBA WATSON VS. J.B. HOLMES — Bubba Watson continues his rally, winning the par-5 13th hole with a 5-foot birdie putt and the 14th with a conceded birdie after he hit his approach to 4 feet and Holmes chipped through the green.
MARANA, Ariz. – The first match has just ended and the other three feature significant leads.
RYAN MOORE VS. LUKE DONALD — Donald closed out another lopsided win when he made birdie at the 14th hole to beat Moore 5 and 4. The Englishman, who has yet to trail in a match this week, made seven birdies and one bogey in the quarterfinals.
MATT KUCHAR VS. Y.E. YANG — Kuchar just three-putted the par-3 13th for bogey and now only leads 2 up. The American was 4 up at the turn but Yang won the 11th with a birdie and now, the other par 5 with a par.
MARTIN KAYMER VS. MIGUEL ANGEL JIMENEZ — Despite having to take a drop in the waste area that bisects the fairway, Kaymer made a 28-foot birdie putt at the par-5 11th to win the hole and go 3 up.
BUBBA WATSON VS. J.B. HOLMES — After a 396-yard drive, Holmes birdied the 10th hole to go 5 up. But Watson got one back when Holmes visited the native area at the 11th and was still short of the green in four.
MARANA, Ariz. — The latest on Saturday morning’s four quarterfinal matches:
RYAN MOORE VS. LUKE DONALD — Donald won three holes in a row to take a commanding advantage at 5 up through 10. Moore just made a 7-footer for eagle to win the 11th, though -- and he needed it since Donald chipped in for birdie after flubbing his greenside bunker shot.
MATT KUCHAR VS Y.E. YANG — Y.E. Yang just made a 3-footer for birdie to win the 10th hole. He's still 3 down, though, and needs to start a rally.
MARTIN KAYMER VS. MIGUEL ANGEL JIMENEZ — The two Ryder Cup teammates have just halved the eighth and ninth holes with pars so Kaymer heads to the back nine 2 up.
BUBBA WATSON VS. J.B. HOLMES — Holmes won the eighth hole with a birdie to go 4 up. He's on a roll, 4 under, while Watson's made two birdies and two bogeys.
MARANA, Ariz. -- The latest on Saturday morning's four quarterfinal matches:
RYAN MOORE VS. LUKE DONALD -- Having just finished the front nine, Donald is in complete control, leading 4 up. He won the par-5 eighth with a 12-foot birdie putt after a terrific shot from a bunker 74 yards away, then won the ninth when Moore bogeyed.
MATT KUCHAR VS Y.E. YANG -- Kuchar is also 4 up through eight holes, with Yang losing the seventh and eight holes due to bogeys.
MARTIN KAYMER VS. MIGUEL ANGEL JIMENEZ -- Kaymer is 2 up through seven, with Jimenez losing the seventh with a bogey.
BUBBA WATSON VS. J.B. HOLMES -- Holmes has jumped out to a commanding 3-up advantage, having won two holes with birdies, then the fifth hole with a Watson bogey.
MARANA, Ariz. -- Here's the latest on Saturday morning's four quarterfinal matches.
RYAN MOORE VS. LUKE DONALD -- Donald just chipped in from 67 feet for birdie at the par-3 sixth and is now 2 up
MATT KUCHAR VS Y.E. YANG -- Kuchar has posted two consecutive birdies, rolling in putts of 5 feet (at the fourth) and 12 feet (at the fifth) and is 2 up through five holes.
MARTIN KAYMER VS. MIGUEL ANGEL JIMENEZ -- Jimenez conceded the par-3 third hole after he found the water, and Kaymer is now 1 up through four holes
BUBBA WATSON VS. J.B. HOLMES -- In the battle of two of the TOUR's biggest bombers, Holmes' second shot to the par-5 second landed inside three feet for an easy eagle to put him 1 up.
The dream may die hard for Italian teenager Matteo Manassero – he’s 4 down to Luke Donald through the first nine holes of their match. Manassero, though, isn’t the only one in trouble. Ben Crane is also 4 down in his match with Miguel Angel Jimenez.
Arguably the biggest upset brewing, however, is Bubba Watson, playing in this event for the first time in his career, leading two-time winner Geoff Ogilvy 4 up through the first 12 holes of their match.
Watson won the opening hole with a par and hasn’t looked back, leading the entire day. He added birdies on Nos. 2 and 3. Ogilvy eventually cut into the lead with a birdie of his own on No. 5, but Watson has won each of the first three holes on the back nine.
In other matches, Hunter Mahan is leading the lone No. 1 seed left, Martin Kaymer, 1 up through nine, while J.B. Holmes is all square with Jason Day through 11 holes.
Should Holmes and Watson both win, that would set up a bomber’s paradise match in the quarterfinals.
Elsewhere, Graeme McDowell has rallied to all square with Y.E. Yang, while Ryan Moore has battled back to all square with Nick Watney. Matt Kuchar leads Rickie Fowler 2 up through 14 holes.