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Europeans Don't Perform up to Expectations


The Europeans usually dominate the first two days of the Ryder Cup and then hang on during Sunday's 12 singles matches as the Americans mount an epic comeback. That scenario has worked out pretty well as the Euros have won nine of the past 13 biennial matches.

It's been perceived that the Euros are much more in tune with the vagaries of the arcane foursome (alternate-shot) and four-ball formats, where the melding of two personalities is requisite for low scoring. The American team members - traditionally, anyway - are viewed as individualistic touring pros without the capacity to work together and play off one another.

That situation didn't work out as expected on Friday at Medinah Country Club near Chicago as the Yanks won two of the foursomes in the morning and then three of four four-ball matches in the afternoon to forge a 5-3 lead after the first day of the 39th Ryder Cup. The margin could have been even more save for a red-hot Nicolas Colsaerts of Belgium, who carded eight birdies and an eagle to carry partner Lee Westwood and stave off the American duo of Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker in the final match of the day.

Needless to say, the Europeans were concerned as they headed into Saturday, which involves foursomes in the morning and four-ball following a lunch break. When the dust settled Friday at Medinah No. 3, José Maria Olazábal talked to the media about the first-day developments. Here's what the Spaniard had to say during his Q&A with reporters.

MODERATOR: European captain José Maria Olazábal joining us at the 39th Ryder Cup. Captain, your team is down 5 3 after day one. You have your pairings set for the foursomes tomorrow morning. How about we start with the foursomes which have been announced; comments on your decisions there and then a recap of today, please.

JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL: Well, obviously not the day we were expecting, especially in the afternoon. I think we did okay in the morning session. Foursomes is not an easy format, and to go 2 2, I think we were pretty happy about it. In the afternoon session, you know, things didn't go our way. I think we faced two really hot pairings the first two matches. Bubba and Webb played extraordinary well. I think they were like 10 under par if I'm not mistaken. And then in the second group, I think Keegan was really hot today. He was full of confidence. He played extraordinary golf. And, well, we lost those two matches and made the afternoon session a little bit difficult for us.

Regarding, well, the last match, I would like to mention that Nicola I think did something really special today. If the information that I got was correct, I think it's been the best scoring for a rookie in the history of the Ryder Cup. So it was quite an impressive performance, and it was a huge point for us. The way the session went, losing the first three matches, to win that last point, it made a big difference for the afternoon. And for tomorrow, well, again, we are going to have the first two matches are going to be really tough. We have, again, Webb and Bubba, and Keegan and Phil in those first two matches. I've tried to, you know, put all the guns for tomorrow morning. We do have to, you know, change the momentum. We need to have a great day tomorrow, both morning and afternoon sessions. And that's what we are aiming for.

Q. There are reports that some of The European Team wives and girlfriends were abused, heckled by spectators on the 18th; do you know anything about that? Can you shed any light?

JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL: That's the first information that I got. I saw the crowds went across the ropes and got running very much to the edge of the green. I don't know if that was expected or not, but I would have to talk to the wives and ladies of the team if that was the case. But I have not - I don't have that information with me.

Q. Can you just talk about your decisions, the way you changed the team from morning to afternoon and perhaps specifically leaving out Ian Poulter and Luke and Sergio, please.

JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL: Well, I wanted to have every player play during the first day. And obviously in order to do that, you have to drop some of those players that have played in the morning. That was the reason behind it. And at the same time, this is a long week. 36 holes today, 36 holes tomorrow, and single matches on Sunday; I don't want to worn my top players before Sunday. So to have them rested one session, I think was a pretty good idea.

Q. Is there anything that you and your vice captains discovered today that may have been a little different from what you anticipated what day one would be like; so you discussed going into the weekend in terms of strategy, the pairings, anything in particular?

JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL: No, we stick to the plan. The only thing is that I think in the afternoon session, we just faced players that were more inspired than us and played better golf than us. What we need to do is just step it up and play better golf tomorrow. Simple as that.

Q. What do you think of Nicolas Colsaerts' play today? Were you surprised by that, and do you think he will be able to play 36 holes tomorrow if necessary?

JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL: Well, obviously I'm not going to tell you if he's going to play 36 holes tomorrow. Obviously I was impressed. That round of golf, eight birdies and an eagle, playing against Tiger and Steve; being a rookie; of course it's an impressive round. You know, he's had one of those days that he will remember for the rest of his life. And that was, you know, very nice for him I think.

Q. Lee and Nicolas looked very comfortable with each other today. The chemistry seemed to be very good between them. But you separated them for tomorrow; is that because the format of tomorrow is different, and could you talk about that?

JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL: Yeah, the format is different tomorrow. It's foursomes. It's a much more difficult format. It's not as easy to get the rhythm of play, and that's the reason behind it. I know that Lee and Luke understand each other very well. They have a pretty good record playing together. That's the reason behind it, yes.

Q. I thought Graeme McDowell looked pretty exhausted towards the end of the four balls match this afternoon. Had it been the intention to play him in four balls this afternoon?

JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL: (Smiling) Maybe not.

Q. And why did you then, or what led to that?

JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL: Well, some of the players didn't play all that well this morning, and I thought, you know, he would have been a good pairing for G Mac they have been a formidable pairing the last few times and that's the reason behind it. Simple as that.

Q. I think I'm right in saying that Lee Westwood didn't make a birdie from the seventh hole this morning; any concerns about Lee's form?

JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL: I'm not concerned about Lee in the sense that knowing Lee, obviously any good player might have a bad day. But I don't think we're going to see a couple of bad days in a row from Lee. He's a very consistent player. You know, as I said, foursomes format is difficult, and in the afternoon session, I mean, he didn't have many options to contribute. You know, when you have a playing partner that shoots eight birdies and an eagle, well, there is not many holes left for you to really, you know, do something about it. (Laughing.)

Q. Are you planning to address the team as a group tomorrow to try and fire them up into the response that you need? Are you planning anything special in that regard?

JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL: Obviously we are going to have our players' meeting tonight after the boys have rested and have dinner. We will address what happened today. And, you know, I'm going to make it clear to the boys that they need to step it up. They need to play better golf; simple as that. There is no secrets about this game. You have to make more birdies than your opponent. And if you don't do that, you're going to struggle.

Q. What was the thinking behind putting Nicola off with Sergio?

JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL: Well, Nicola, the way he played today, you know, he was very impressive. Obviously you have to use that kind of momentum on a player. And Sergio, he's a consistent player. He has the experience. I think character wise, they are pretty much similar, and that's the reason behind it.

Q. Are you worried about Kaymer's form? He didn't have a single birdie, either, today?

JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL: Well, I think, you know, he's trying a little too hard. I think he needs to loosen up a little bit. We will get him loose tonight.

MODERATOR: European captain, José Maria Olazábal.

The transcript of the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.