He's older, wiser, grayer, paler but nonetheless able to Captain at a team tournament where people show up. Yet how can he be considered when he still won'tfess up to his hand in the single worst pre-tournament renovation and setup in golf history: Valderamma's 17th.
Paul Forsyth reports:
The man who led them to victory at Valderrama in 1997 has been having such a ball at the Seve Trophy, where his European team lead Great Britain & Ireland 9½-8½, that he fancies himself to succeed Nick Faldo at Celtic Manor in 2010. “I was thinking about it out on the course,” he says. “I was having such a good time. If the players want me, I would be happy to do it again.”
Ballesteros, who retired from competitive golf earlier this year, has relished his captain’s role at the Heritage, careering his buggy over the humps and hollows of County Laois, dishing out legs of Iberian ham to anyone with an appetite, and adopting the hands-on approach for which he was famous at Valderrama. The man who said he would never return to the Ryder Cup is having second thoughts. “In life, you say certain things and then change your mind.
Everybody does that. I have no doubts that I would be a better captain now, although it would be difficult because I won. I have learnt a lot of things. I know how to treat players, how to make the team play together, how to keep everybody happy. I have a very good relationship with the players,” he said.
Maybe, but his relationship with the European Tour is so uneasy that he will have a hard job persuading them this event deserves to keep its slot on the schedule, never mind that he should be installed as their next Ryder Cup captain. Yesterday’s marginal increase in crowds at least ensured there were more bodies behind the ropes than there were inside them.