VIRGINIA WATER England (Reuters) - Jose Maria Olazabal is confident the European Tour and Ivan Ballesteros, nephew of the late Seve, can resolve their differences over the EurAsia Cup team event that was held in Kuala Lumpur in March.
Ivan Ballesteros, co-managing director of the rival Royal Trophy team competition staged in China in December, said two months ago the inaugural EurAsia tournament was “an act of aggression” from the organisers, the European Tour and the Asian Tour.
He added that five-times major champion Seve had written to the chairman of the Asian Tour shortly before his death in 2011 to say the Royal Trophy had “a very special place in my heart”.
Amid a welter of claims and counter claims, the European Tour and Asian Tour responded by saying the Seve Ballesteros Foundation charity fully supported the new event.
“I know the Royal Trophy was Seve’s idea and that’s why a lot of players wanted to play in that event,” Olazabal told Reuters in an interview arranged by sponsor Nespresso at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.
”I believe (European Tour chief executive) George O‘Grady is trying to have talks with Ivan to see if they can find some common ground and somehow sort out the issue but it’s going to come down to time.
“It’s not going to change in a couple of meetings or a couple of hours but I‘m pretty sure they can come to a solution that will make both parties happy.”
Olazabal, who formed one of the best partnerships in Ryder Cup history with Seve in the 1980s and 1990s, said he was not sure how his close friend would have reacted to the launch of the new competition.
”I don’t know if Seve would have agreed with the EurAsia Cup being set up or not,“ added the 48-year-old Spaniard. ”Seve was critical of the European Tour sometimes but at the same time he was always very supportive of the Tour too.
“In that regard I am pretty sure he would have wanted something that would have benefited both parties.”
Olazabal, who captained Europe’s triumphant Ryder Cup side in Illinois in 2012 and has twice skippered the Royal Trophy team, said he was delighted to see some of the continent’s best players showing good form at this stage of the season.
Ryder Cup stalwarts Lee Westwood, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Martin Kaymer have all won in recent weeks and Olazabal believes the omens are encouraging as the qualifying process starts to hot up ahead of the biennial match against the United States in Scotland in September.
”It’s good to see those players winning again,“ said the 1994 and 1999 U.S. Masters champion. ”This is a very important stretch of the year now with some big events and a lot of points at stake.
”I really believe these players, who should be the core of the Ryder Cup team, and others will now start coming to the fore.
“It’s great for the team and I think captain Paul McGinley will be very happy about that.”
Olazabal said he had not yet been approached about being one of the vice-captains at Gleneagles but did not rule out a repeat of his late callup as one of skipper Colin Montgomerie’s deputies in Wales four years ago.
“The Ryder Cup is very special and if you’re part of the team that week it’s even more special,” he added.
“I will be up there with Nespresso anyway, doing a couple of things for them, the same way I was at Celtic Manor in 2010 and we know what happened there,” he said with a big grin. “So we’ll just have to wait and see.”
Editing by Patrick Johnston