A.S.O. Sports Director Philippe Sabarros with former Ryder Cup captain José María Olazábal during the second round of the Lacoste Ladies Open de France at Golf de Chantaco
José María Olazábal, one of five European team vice-captains to Paul McGinley at last week’s Ryder Cup at Gleneagles, came to support the women professionals during the second round of the Lacoste Ladies Open de France on Friday.
The 2012 Ryder Cup captain, who lives just 15 minutes away from Golf de Chantaco across the border in Hondarribia, is a good friend of Spanish professionals Carlota Ciganda, Tania Elosegui and Azahara Muñoz, who he tipped to retain the title.
“She is a good choice this week,” said Olazábal of Azahara, while also praising fellow Solheim Cup winner Carlota. “I think she’s a wonderful woman, she plays great golf, has a very mature head on her shoulders and she knows what she wants. She’s doing a great job,” he said.
“It’s nice to see the women play. I’ve played many times with Carlota and Tania and always enjoy how consistent the women play golf and it’s always something to keep an eye on.”
The two-time major champion believes that last year’s Solheim Cup win in the United States could be a landmark moment for the women’s game. “Winning on American soil will help golf in Europe,” he said. “You need to do good things to attract sponsors.”
Olazábal knows a thing or two about team matchplay on the biggest stages, having played in the Ryder Cup seven times. He also captained Europe’s 2012 Ryder Cup team to a narrow victory over the USA nicknamed ‘the miracle of Medinah’ after an improbable turnaround on the last day.
Although his fondest memory is still Europe’s first away victory on US soil at Muirfeld Village in Ohio in 1987, he believes that the European team’s dominant display at Gleneagles last weekend was up there with the best of the Ryder Cups and the home support was a huge factor.
He said: “We’ve had a wonderful ride in the last ten Ryder Cups and the boys did a great job, winning comfortably this year. It’s something we have to enjoy and prepare for the next time.
“Home support is always huge. You ask any of the players and they feel it: when you’re on the golf course, the cheering that goes on lifts you up and at the same time, it doesn’t matter if things are going your way. If you hear the roar of the crowd, you know that things are going our way.”