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Jose Maria Olazabal rules himself out of Ryder Cup

Twice former U.S. Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal said on Wednesday he will almost certainly not play in September’s Ryder Cup.

The 42-year-old, who is Nick Faldo’s vice-captain for the Kentucky event, will make his return to competitive action at the Andalucia Open on Thursday after persistent problems with rheumatism cut short his 2007 season.

“Unless I completely recover right away and my game hits standards I haven’t yet reached in my life before, as far as playing is concerned, I am out of the picture,” Olazabal told a news conference at the Aloha Golf Club.

It has been Olazabal’s second long spell out of golf after suffering arthritis in his foot in 1995-96. His most recent problem affects his knee, shoulder, groin and lower-back, hindering him walking and bending.

He decided on Sunday to ask for an invitation to the event co-promoted and organised by compatriots Miguel Angel Jimenez and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano where he will tee up with Jimenez and German youngster Martin Kaymer.

“I’m going to take it on a weekly basis, test myself and see if I can cope with competition again,” the seven-time Ryder Cup player said.

“If my body holds up then I will reassess my situation. I do not know whether I will be able to play a schedule in America but if I feel the pain is bearable then I’m looking at playing Houston (Open) and the Masters.”

Olazabal, who won the U.S. Masters in 1994 and 1999, refuses to consider retirement but admitted he thought his career could have been over when he was in so much pain towards the end of last year.

“I have missed competition. I’ve missed putting myself to the test and it has not crossed my mind (to retire),” he added.

“Did I think I couldn’t play again? All last September, October, November, December. It was a similar scenario to my first problems in that respect. When you have total lack of mobility you hit bottom, for sure.”


March 26, 2008

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