Olazabal vows to infuse Seve's fight into Ryder Cup team

LONDON Mon May 7, 2012 9:24am EDT

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LONDON (Reuters) - European captain Jose Maria Olazabal marked the first anniversary of the death of his former Ryder Cup partner Seve Ballesteros on Monday by pledging to infuse the late Spaniard's "great fighting spirit" into his team later this year.

Ballesteros, who died last year at the age of 54 after a long battle with brain cancer, and close friend Olazabal formed the Ryder Cup's most successful partnership, winning 11, halving two and losing only two of their matches together.

"Somehow the memory of Seve must be there," said Europe's captain, referring to the biennial match with United States in Illinois in September. "We are thinking of the best way to do it.

"Seve has been a prominent figure for European golf and especially for the Ryder Cup," Olazabal told the tour's official website (www.europeantour.com).

"We will find a way to infuse his great fighting spirit - he always made us believe we could beat the Americans."

Five-times major winner Ballesteros successfully inspired the European players with a video message at the last edition of the competition at Celtic Manor in Wales in 2010.

"In most of the meetings before any Ryder Cup, with everybody around, captain, vice-captains, players, Seve always had the last word," said Olazabal. "He made it quite clear the most important thing was not what you said but how you said it.

"He always managed to convey the core Ryder Cup values - no quitting, always being ready, being capable of facing any adversity, not allowing any outside influences to affect your game."

U.S. captain Davis Love III said he was always in awe of Ballesteros who played in eight Ryder Cups between 1979-95 and skippered the European team to victory on Spanish soil in 1997.

"Seve was definitely the man," said Love. "It was an education for me playing against Seve because he was the Ryder Cup.

"I always tried to have the passion Seve had, the grind-it-out mentality. I always looked up to him."

(Writing by Tony Jimenez; editing by Dave Thompson)

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