Olazabal & Europe Ignore Sportsmanship, Waste Big Opportunity
Tony Jacklin probably has incurable indigestion at the moment. Having been on the receiving end of The Concession from Jack Nicklaus in 1969, I’ll bet an appalled Jacklin somewhere was looking on in horror as European Captain Olazabal instructed Francesco Molinari not to concede anything to Tiger Woods on the 18th hole. In Molinari’s own words, “I thought about giving him the halve on the fairway, but then the Captain was there, the Chairman was the there, they told me, it’s not the same, winning or halving, so get focused and do your best.” Not even when they were both lying 3 on the green within 5 feet of the hole, did any Euro think to say “Good-good, the Cup has been retained.” A dejected, unfocused Woods would miss his putt, yet still had enough class not to ask Molinari to putt his, even though it meant a Euro win rather than a halved Ryder Cup.
Perhaps the normally thoughtful Olazabal has been partially blinded to this sort of thing by his experience at Brookline in 1999, forced to wait for several minutes to attempt a tying putt after Justin Leonard dropped that ridiculous bomb on him, which was immediately followed by that over-exuberant, shameful celebration by nearly the entire American team when the Cup in fact had not yet been clinched.
When Nicklaus so famously conceded that final short putt to Jacklin, he was chastised by his own team members & Captain Sam Snead. He was also a Ryder Cup rookie at 29 years old because of silly qualification rules back then. Young Nicklaus endured a lot of heat to teach us all that this is still a game, a friendly but fierce competition. It looks to me as though some of that lesson has been lost and we are all the poorer for it.
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