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October 16 2012

10:27 PM

King honors Ryder Cup stalwarts

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Left to right, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Jose Maria Olazabal, King Juan Carlos I and Sergio Garcia pose for photos in the palace.

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.

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