• Ryder Cup

Olazabal wants Rory to be a Ryder Cup leader

ESPN staff
August 19, 2012
Jose Maria Olazabal has called on Rory McIlroy to be vocal in the dressing room © Getty Images

European captain Jose Maria Olazabal expects Rory McIlroy to lead from the front during next month's eagerly anticipated Ryder Cup.

McIlroy was just a fresh-faced 21-year-old when he made his debut in the illustrious international competition at Celtic Manor two years ago, but since then has won two major titles and risen to world No. 1 to mark himself down as golf's emerging star.

Olazabal, himself a two-time major winner, is in awe of McIlroy's progress - and hopes the Northern Irishman will take a leadership role on a team where he is almost certain to be the youngest player.

"One thing's for sure, and that is Rory's passion and emotions will be part of the team spirit," Olazabal said. "His focus and passion are very special.

"It is great to see a young man of his age with two majors under his belt and such a strong mind.

"If he continues his work ethic and his love for the game he will achieve more major victories."

McIlroy's victory at Kiawah Island in the recent US PGA Championship was a welcome boost for European golf, after American golfers had won three of the last four major championships. Olazabal, however, insisted that he never had any reason to worry about the state of his team - or the strength of the American opposition.

"If we were to be concerned that would be the wrong mindset going to Medinah," said the Spaniard. "I am confident we will have a strong team especially with a number of players finishing among the top 10 on the leader board at the British Open and at the US PGA.

"I am not worried about anything - I know how good my players are."

Olazabal still has to wait to see which ten players have automatically qualified for his side. Sergio Garcia is currently leading the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro - a win for the Spaniard would leapfrog him back into the automatic spots at the expense of Ian Poulter.

Garcia has not won in the US since 2008 - the last time he played in the Ryder Cup - but is not thinking too far ahead with a number of players chasing him on the leaderboard.

"There's no doubt that I've been doing some things right and that's why I'm in the position I am," Garcia said. "But, you know, I need to keep hopefully getting better and improving in all aspects of my game and, you know, if I manage to do that, then I can get back to where I was."

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