Tiger Woods, 25 years of special Ryder Cup

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Tiger Woods, 25 years of special Ryder Cup
Tiger Woods, 25 years of special Ryder Cup

Imagine being on an iconic hole like 17 at Valderrama. Ahead, Tiger Woods is about to throw a putt that will end up in the water. If he looks to the side, he can see Michael Jordan following the scene. Hard to believe postcard.

That was the Ryder Cup that Valderrama hosted in 1997. The first held in Europe outside the British Isles, a historic debt to the unquantifiable Spanish contribution to the wealth of a special competition, by far the most followed event in golf, which ended in largely due to the push of Seve Ballesteros.

Tiger Woods, memories

This Thursday Report Plus + rescues the memory of a Ryder who brought the Cadiz district of San Roque to the jet set, from the aforementioned Jordan and Tiger to George Bush Sr. or King Emeritus Juan Carlos.

The voices of players and other personalities who witnessed a week in the history of Spanish sport in the foreground. Valderrama, then in the possession of Jaime Ortiz Patiño, made a strong bet to receive the appointment against the will of Seve, at the time European captain, who preferred to take the cup to the humblest area of ​​Chiclana, whose course he had designed himself.

It was not the only controversy that preceded the first coup and that unexpectedly helped to arouse interest in what was going to happen on the Andalusian track. Seve decided to leave out Miguel Ángel Martín, who had finished tenth in the ranking and had earned a direct place but was suffering from a wrist injury.

It was an ugly process, with a fax and several press conferences with crossed accusations in between. José María Olazábal and Nacho Garrido, the Spaniards who did enter among the Europeans, remember the "tension" that was chewed upon the team's arrival in Valderrama, when Martín participated in the group before being definitively excluded.

Those were days when Sotogrande seemed to be the center of the world, with wealthy yachts moored in the Bay of Algeciras and unprecedented security measures. The gala dinner left several pearls. An American contingent that preferred pizzas and hamburgers to the luxurious prepared menu or Los del Río singing La Macarena before the dumbfounded gaze of the Yankees.

The next day, at the opening ceremony, comical scenes because the wind prevented the speeches from being heard and people started to wave. Valderrama's Ryder mixed organizational rigor with the spirit of Latin improvisation.

In fact, the first session started late due to a tremendous storm, which forced personnel from other courses to be recruited to drain all the water that flooded fairways, greens and bunkers. Almost an hour late, the confrontation began.

Two teams. On the local side Montgomerie, Clarke, Faldo, Woosnam, a very young Westwood, Langer, Olazábal... Facing Tigre, Justin Leonard, Phil Mickelson, Fred Couples, Tom Lehman, Davis Love III... Seve had prepared Valderrama to annul the American power.

Especially that of a Tiger who at that time was a world away from the rest in this regard. That was an ingredient of the European final victory. Another was the delivered captaincy of a Seve who came to overwhelm his own. “He called me one day at half past three in the morning to the room, so that we could make the couples of the first day, and he told me ‘bring the tobacco’.

I went there in a bathrobe,” Jiménez tells with amusement. “To Montgomerie in a blow he began to say that if he did this, that the other. In the end Collin let him go: 'Seve, do you hit or do I hit?, Chema adds.

The final touch was provided by some magical moments of a week full of blows, because Valderrama, a route that rewards cunning over strength, demands them. Nacho Garrido's blow from the bunker on number 17, Constantino Rocca's victory over Tiger Woods ("I'm very calm Seve, the one who's nervous is you," says the friendly Italian who snapped at the Cantabrian at one point in the match) in some singles in which the United States threatened to come back... Valderrama was so intense, even for those who couldn't be there, that it is still very much in force 25 years later.

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