While the appointment of new European Ryder Cup Captain Thomas Bjorn has been widely welcomed, spare a thought for those players who don’t get the nod to be captain.
In the past week Miguel Angel Jiminez has spoken to the Spanish media about the reason he was given for his non-selection to be captain for the 2016 team.
Jiminez, who was vice captain in 1997 and 2014, was told by European tour bosses that “he had to perfect his English if he was to be selected as captain”. Jiminez blasted “that excuse was a little bit banana republic – with all due respect to bananas which are very tasty. We have interpreters on tour for a reason, not that I have ever needed one.” He said that he had been quite unhappy about this and had exchanged words with Ryder Cup Director Richard Hills and former European Tour Chief Executive George O’Grady.
Now the Ryder Cup is at last returning to continental Europe to embrace the wider contribution of the European countries to the tour, surely the players should be allowed to use their own languages if they wish, it is to the European team’s advantage. Seve and Olazabal conversed in Spanish when they played their matches together, a natural thing to do. It is not gamesmanship as Paul Azinger said it was, to conceal their thoughts and tactics in their own language, it was just them speaking naturally to each other. This is the Ryder Cup, do the teams always meet each other half way? In 18 months will the Americans put up a French speaking captain for the matches in France? Very unlikely indeed.
The European Tour is a huge melting pot of languages and cultures, let it be represented as it really is, without insisting that it be watered down to make it more palatable and understandable for the Americans. It’s to the Europeans great advantage to be the way it is.