European teamwork will beat American superiority in Ryder Cup, says Woosnam

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The Independent Online

So, Europe's majorless run now stands at 26 and as Phil Mickelson's Masters victory on Sunday means that America have collected 19 during this drought, concerns must be as intense as they have ever been with a Ryder Cup fixture looming in Dublin in September. But, as ever, there were mere shrugs from those heading back over the Atlantic.

Leading the indifference was the leader himself, Ian Woosnam, who was fairly stunning in his concession to the superiority of Tom Lehman's superstars.

"All of the guys accept the American team have the best golfers on paper and they have proven that by the amount of tournaments they've won," said the Welshman. "But the Europeans are great as a team and that's why we've won seven out of the last 10 Ryder Cups."

The "camaraderie" theme has become an all too common fall-back for European captains, but Woosnam has little other option than to pin his hopes in unity overcoming individual brilliance because all of the latter is residing Stateside. Despite encouraging performances from Miguel Angel Jimenez and Darren Clarke, Europe could muster just one name in the top 10 and even then Jose Maria Olazabal had to conjure the round of his Masters life to creep into a tie for third when his 66, the best of the week, leapfrogged him 18 places.

The world ranking points the 40-year-old earned for his tie for third makes the new No 12 a practical certainty for the K Club. After the gloomy showings of his two so-called "stars", Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia, Woosnam was mighty relieved that Olazabal had provided a bright spot to focus on. "Ollie's playing fantastic," said Woosnam peering down a results sheet that now reads seventh, second and third in his last three American outings.

"He is one of the best putters in the world, a genius with the irons and what's more is so hungry to play after missing out for the last matches. He may be 40, but I played when I was almost that age and didn't fare too badly. Jose is great news for the team, because he adds experience as well as all of his class. It's been so admirable the way he has come back from his injuries and everything."

The foot problems that stopped Olazabal reaching what would surely have been the peak of his career are now blessedly behind him and so, it seems after Sunday, is the insecurity that he cannot compete on courses as long as the new Augusta. Coming into the season's first major the former Masters champion wrote off his chances of a third Green Jacket declaring: "This place is not my alley any more".

Then on the eve of this 70th staging, Olazabal claimed the course was two shots harder a round and that some of the holes made it almost impossible for the shorter-hitters. His strangely uninspired first-round of 76 looked like he had swallowed all of the critics' propaganda and it was not until he threw off the shackles of doubt that the real Olazabal revealed himself.

Unfortunately, not everyone has come to their senses and even yesterday there were those announcing that the extra 155 yards had rid the National of its magic, as par became the new birdie and so on. The statistics do not back up this pessimism, however. In 2005 there were 15 eagles. This time there were 29.

Olazabal proved the magic is still there if you go chasing it.

Final scores and prize-money from Augusta

US unless stated

281 (7-under)

P Mickelson 70 72 70 69 (£724,429)

283 (5-under)

T Clark (SA) 70 72 72 69 (£434,657)

284 (4-under)

J M Olazabal (Sp) 76 71 71 66, R Goosen (SA) 70 73 72 69, T Woods 72 71 71 70, C Campbell 71 67 75 71, F Couples 71 70 72 71 (£181,509 each)

285 (3-under)

A Cabrera (Arg) 73 74 70 68, V Singh (Fiji) 67 74 73 71 (£120,737 each)

286 (2-under)

S Cink 72 73 71 70 (£108,664)

287 (1-under)

M Weir (Can) 71 73 73 70, M A Jimenez (Sp) 72 74 69 72, S Ames (Can) 74 70 70 73

288 (par)

A Oberholser 69 75 73 71, B Mayfair 71 72 73 72

289 (1-over)

G Ogilvy (Aus) 70 75 73 71, S Verplank 74 70 74 71, R Pampling (Aus) 72 73 72 72

290 (2-over)

N O'Hern (Aus) 71 72 76 71, S Appleby (Aus) 71 75 73 71, D Howell (GB) 71 71 76 72

291 (3-over)

R Allenby (Aus) 73 73 74 71, D Love 74 71 74 72, M Hensby (Aus) 80 67 70 74, J Furyk 73 75 68 75, D Clarke (N Irl) 72 70 72 77

292 (4-over)

A Scott (Aus) 72 74 75 71, C Pettersson (Swe) 72 74 73 73, P Harrington (Rep Irl) 73 70 75 74, S Katayama (Japan) 75 70 73 74, E Els (SA) 71 71 74 76

293 (5-over)

B Jobe 72 76 77 68, T Bjorn (Den) 73 75 76 69, Z Johnson 74 72 77 70, T Purdy 72 76 74 71

294 (6-over)

R Sabbatini (SA) 76 70 74 74, T Herron 76 71 71 76, R Mediate 68 73 73 80

295 (7-over)

J Leonard 75 70 79 71, B Curtis 71 74 77 73, J Bohn 73 71 77 74

296 (8-over)

L Mize 75 72 77 72, L Donald (GB) 74 72 76 74, R Beem 71 73 73 79

297 (9-over)

O Browne 74 69 80 74

298 (10-over)

S Garcia (Sp) 72 74 79 73

300 (12-over)

B Crenshaw 71 72 78 79

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