All of the players at the Hero Cup had a pre-tournament briefing from three Ryder Cup legends in an early rallying cry ahead of the big one in Rome later this year.
There are plenty of young players teeing it up in Abu Dhabi as the European Ryder Cup team enters a new phase with the likes of Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood, Henrik Stenson and Sergio Garcia all out of contention since joining LIV Golf.
And as Luke Donald runs the rule over a promising new wave of Ryder Cup hopefuls, the players were treated to a briefing from Ryder Cup legends Jose Maria Olazabal, Paul McGinley and Thomas Bjorn to give them a taste of what it takes to succeed in the Ryder Cup.
Players from both teams were gathered by 2023 captain Donald for the experience with three former captains, all of whom were victorious against the Americans and all three with very different styles and methods.
2014 winning captain McGinley talked stats, while mastermind of the emphatic 2018 win in Paris Bjorn talked more about the emotional side of things along with Olazabal – who was in charge of the perhaps Europe’s finest hour when they produced the Miracle of Medinah comeback in 2012.
“It was Thomas Bjorn, Paul McGinley and myself and we just talked about our experiences of the Ryder Cup from our own points of view,” Olazabal told Sky Sports while commentating on the action at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.
“Obviously Paul was much more analytical while Thomas and I talked a bit more about our personal experiences. I told them a few stories about Seve and myself, and about my first Ryder Cup in ’97 at Muirfield Village.
“I think it was a good night, players and caddies that were there were listening carefully, let’s put it that way.”
The teamtalk could prove invaluable to the Ryder Cup hopefuls all trying to impress Donald enough to be in his plans for this year’s clash with the USA at Marco Simone Golf Club in Rome this autumn, who couldn’t help but be inspired by listening to three legends of the competition.
Olazabal also regaled the teams with personal stories about his partnership with Seve Ballesteros and the best way to soak everything in when a rookie and how to gather information from the senior Ryder Cup players.
“First time I played as a rookie I think, to be honest, Tony Jacklin the captain didn’t know what to do with me – I think it was Seve who said just put me with Ollie and we’ll be OK,” added Olazabal.
“I remember that week, I think I was just listening to the experienced players in that team - I think you learn a lot of things just talking to experienced people on the golf course.
“I think it’s a huge learning curve to figure out what it takes to deliver at those crucial moments. The Ryder Cup is unique, there’s no other golf event that gets close to it in atmosphere, in experiences or relationships. I think it’s huge.”
Paul Higham is a sports journalist with over 20 years of experience in covering most major sporting events for both Sky Sports and BBC Sport. He is currently freelance and covers the golf majors on the BBC Sport website. Highlights over the years include covering that epic Monday finish in the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor and watching Rory McIlroy produce one of the most dominant Major wins at the 2011 US Open at Congressional. He also writes betting previews and still feels strangely proud of backing Danny Willett when he won the Masters in 2016 - Willett also praised his putting stroke during a media event before the Open at Hoylake. Favourite interviews he's conducted have been with McIlroy, Paul McGinley, Thomas Bjorn, Rickie Fowler and the enigma that is Victor Dubuisson. A big fan of watching any golf from any tour, sadly he spends more time writing about golf than playing these days with two young children, and as a big fair weather golfer claims playing in shorts is worth at least five shots. Being from Liverpool he loves the likes of Hoylake, Birkdale and the stretch of tracks along England's Golf Coast, but would say his favourite courses played are Kingsbarns and Portrush.
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