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Olazabal set for European Ryder Cup captaincy

Updated: Wednesday, 13 Apr 2011 12:46

Jose Maria Olazabal's last Ryder Cup appearance was at the K Club near Dublin five years ago
Jose Maria Olazabal's last Ryder Cup appearance was at the K Club near Dublin five years ago

Jose Maria Olazabal is expected to be named as the new captain of Europe's Ryder Cup team today.

The 44-year-old Spaniard has been the only name mentioned for next year's defence of the trophy in Chicago, and is the overwhelming favourite for the post when the European Tour's tournament committee meets in Abu Dhabi.

Despite his continuing battle with rheumatism - he played only three events last year - Olazabal's character, record and standing in the game all point to him being an outstanding leader of the side.

‘He is an honourable, incredible man - I haven't heard one person who wouldn't love to see him as captain,’ said European Tour chief executive George O'Grady long before the players' committee gathered to discuss the job.

Winner of seven caps as a player, Olazabal made his debut at Muirfield Village in 1987 alongside compatriot Seve Ballesteros.

They won their first three games together as Europe triumphed on American soil for the first time and went on to be beaten only twice in 15 contests.

His last appearance was at the K Club near Dublin five years ago - he won all his three games there - but after that he served as Nick Faldo's assistant in Louisville and then joined Colin Montgomerie's backroom team at Celtic Manor last October.

Olazabal might well have been in charge there, but delayed throwing his hat into the ring.

The fact that he is taking part in the circuit's Middle East swing - it begins in Abu Dhabi this week, then moves on to Bahrain, Qatar and Dubai, where Tiger Woods is in the field - shows he is intent on a bigger involvement this season.

That was almost a requirement for him to take over from Montgomerie.

Unexpectedly, the European captain is set to be announced before the American one.

That is usually done within a few weeks of the previous match, but an announcement on the American skipper is not expected until Thursday.

Davis Love is considered to be the number one contender for the role. Love was one of Corey Pavin's assistants in Wales, where Europe regained the cup by a single point thanks to Graeme McDowell's nail-biting win over Hunter Mahan.

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