Until last week European and American players had been mostly
mum about this year's Ryder Cup matches, to be held Sept. 21-24
in Rochester, N.Y. But Ballesteros and Olazabal broke the
silence last Sunday after teaming up to win the Paris Pairs, an
unofficial European PGA Tour event.
Played in St. Cloud, a tony suburb just west of Paris, the
four-round tournament employed three different stroke-play formats
-- foursomes and four ball, which are also used in the Ryder Cup,
and an alternate-shot match known as greensomes. Ballesteros and
Olazabal shot 256, 24 under par, to beat Australia's Mike Clayton
and Peter O'Malley by three strokes. European Ryder Cup stalwarts
Ian Woosnam and Colin Montgomerie finished in third, four strokes
behind the Spaniards.
The golden Ryder chalice has been on American soil since 1991,
when the U.S. won the biennial competition for the first time
since 1985. But Ballesteros and Olazabal -- the winningest tandem
in Ryder Cup history, with an 11-2-2 record over the last four
competitions -- are on a mission to get the cup back on their side
of the Atlantic.
``Tell the Americans that we are alive and well,'' Ballesteros
said after finishing Sunday. ``We want the cup back as soon as
possible, and we are ready to take it.''
``And make sure you tell them,'' added Olazabal, now fully
recovered from foot surgery in February, ``we're in very good
health.'' -- Rick Lipsey