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Jose Maria Olazabal ready for Ryder Cup captaincy
December 23, 2010

Twice U.S. Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal would accept the 2012 European Ryder Cup captaincy if he was offered the role, according to his manager Sergio Gomez.

Olazabal has previously said health worries could force him to turn down the chance to succeed Colin Montgomerie as skipper but his long-time manager said the 44-year-old was now ready to take on the United States in Medinah, near Chicago, in two years’ time.

“I’m quite sure he would take the captaincy if the job was offered to him,” Gomez told Reuters in a telephone interview on Tuesday. “I think he’s fit and ready and would be delighted.”

The European Tour is due to hold a Ryder Cup news conference at next month’s Abu Dhabi Championship when Olazabal could be formally appointed.

Last month, tour chief executive George O’Grady gave a broad hint that the Spaniard was the front-runner to take over as skipper.

“Just about every player on the tour, when I last talked to them, would love to see him as the captain,” O’Grady told reporters at the season-ending Dubai World Championship.

“He has not been invited yet but I think if every player you are talking to sees him as an inspirational figure, then the people in a room on a given day have got to vote it.”

Olazabal has been dogged by injuries and ill-health, including losing two years to rheumatoid arthritis in his feet in the mid-1990s.

He has suffered with rheumatic pain in his back and shoulders for the past two years and played just three competitive European Tour events in 2010.

Gomez said Olazabal was still in some discomfort but that his fitness had improved and he planned to play all four tournaments in next month’s ‘Desert Swing’ covering Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Qatar and Dubai.

The popular Spaniard, one of Montgomerie’s deputies when Europe regained the Ryder Cup in Wales in October, has always said he would consider taking over as captain only if he was competing regularly and in constant touch with the players.

Gomez said Olazabal wanted to play much more in 2011.

“We don’t have a schedule beyond the Desert Swing but at some stage, maybe the end of February, he wants to go and see (coach) Butch Harmon in Las Vegas for a week or two to try and improve,” explained Gomez.

“He is always in search of perfection. If I had to define his character and spirit on the golf course I would say he’s a mixture of Seve Ballesteros and Nick Faldo—perfection on one side and fighting spirit on the other.”

If he did take over as captain in the biennial team event, Gomez said the last thing Olazabal would want is a tied match.

“One of his biggest disappointments was at The Belfry in 1989 when we retained the Ryder Cup as holders with a 14-14 tie,” added his manager. “He didn’t like that.

“He had victories alongside Seve and won his singles against Payne Stewart but a couple of years later he just said: ‘We never won that one’.

“At the end of the week for sure he will not want a tied match—his goal is to win.

“He feels like it should be like basketball and there should be overtime or something but of course that is not how the Ryder Cup is structured,” said Gomez.

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