Ryder Cup Golf: Olazabal all set for captain's role

When Colin Montgomerie and Jose Maria Olazabal faced each other in the final of the British amateur championship 27 years ago nobody could be sure they were looking at two future Ryder Cup captains.

But everything now looks in place for Olazabal - an easy winner at Formby that day - to be named tomorrow as the Scot's successor.

The 44-year-old Spaniard has been the only name mentioned for next year's defence of the trophy in Chicago.

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 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 although Davis Love was linked before Christmas with the job there has been no official confirmation yet.

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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