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Odds on Olazabal?

Iain Carter | 20:42 UK time, Tuesday, 13 January 2009

At a three-hour meeting in a plush Abu Dhabi hotel members of the Tournament Committee of the European Tour thrashed out who they want to be the next Ryder Cup captain and aim to announce his identity in a fortnight.

It all points to Jose Maria Olazabal succeeding Nick Faldo to skipper Europe's quest to regain the trophy at Celtic Manor in 2010.

The Spaniard has long been favourite to get the job but has expressed reservations about doing it next year. Now it seems he has a fortnight to make up his mind.

This was the conclusion after reading between the lines when European Tour chief executive George O'Grady and the committee emerged from what had clearly been a long discussion over the captaincy.

Olazabal recently captained the European team at the Royal Trophy in Thailand

O'Grady tried his best to pull off the trick of talking plenty but saying nothing and almost got away with it.

"Do I look like a bloody idiot?" he replied when I tried to get him to divulge a bit more than he wanted.

But there were still enough clues in what he had to say to reporters who'd hung around outside the committee room.

After telling us that no decision had been made, O'Grady said there were several candidates for the job.

"More than two and we want to speak to the top candidates," he insisted.

Following more gently probing, however, O'Grady revealed that "a favoured choice" had been identified.

He went on to say: "In principle the decision has been taken and now they want to sleep on that and regroup and see if their decision is the same in two weeks time."

And will this "favoured" candidate be consulted during this period? "Without question," was O'Grady's reply.

Earlier, he had observed: "It's a constantly moving feast when people have got injuries."

This comment could refer to Olazabal, who is struggling with rheumatism but is convinced he can play in the next match if he regains full fitness.

Observing the faces of the players who serve on the committee it was clear that it had been an arduous meeting where the captaincy wasn't the only issue on the agenda - the effects of the credit crunch and next season's calendar year schedule were other subjects that required lengthy discussion.

But at least we seem to be nearing the end of the process to pick Europe's next Ryder Cup captain and the announcement is expected to be made in Dubai on January 26.

Many have argued the cause of Sandy Lyle as the only one of the so called 'famous five' not to have done the job.

The odds appear to have lengthened on the amiable Scot receiving the same honour that has gone to Faldo, Ian Woosnam, Bernhard Langer and Seve Ballesteros, though only the committee and Tour hierarchy know that for sure at this stage.

They have taken a vow of silence until the announcement is made.


  • Comment number 1.

    Whilst I hope Olly will get the job at some point, if he REALLY thinks he can still play in the team, will his heart be in it 100%?
    I would give it to Sandy Lyle this time round, he deserves it and it has to heppen so why not now and Olly next time.

  • Comment number 2.

    Altough I believe Ollie should be Captain one day, I don't believe that it should be this time around. The man for me is Woosie it just makes sense for him to do it on home turf and get the Welsh fans behind him and the team. As for Sandy Lyle I think he will just have to bide his time a little longer.

  • Comment number 3.

    Surely it is time for Sandy Lyle to be given his chance. Have we all forgotten how good he was in the 80's? He won 2 majors at a time when a British player hadn't won a major for 15 years. In many ways it is a terrible injustice that he has been overlooked in the past in favour of the likes of Sam Torrance and Mark James who may well have done a good job - particularily in Torrance's case - but now must be the time to appoint Lyle before it is too late with him being too old.

    Olazabal would be ideal for an away match in the USA in 2012 given his record and popularity in the States and then Monty at Gleneagles in 2014.

    This is the time for Lyle and I would love to see him being the captain with Olazabal playing which seems to be what Olly wants too!!!

  • Comment number 4.

    What has Sandy Lyle done to be left out in the cold. Europe had 5 great golfers of the era. All major winners. Four have been honoured with the captaincy. It would be outrageuos if the fifth was not. If Sandy doesnt get it this time he will not get it anytime. Olly can wait until 2012 in the states. He is the younger man. Then Monty for Gleneagles. That is the natural order. its not like we have a host of major winners to honour now is it.
    Historians will wonder how a man with two majors was never given the captaincy when both Sam Torrance or Mark James have got it.
    Surely it cannot be a question of capability. The aforementioned James was awful (picking Coltart over Langer & not playing him) and the less said about Faldo the better.

  • Comment number 5.

    If Olly is the preferred candidate and wants the job, then go ahead, he is the outstanding candidate, whilst he wants to play another match, he has health issues which will hinder that chance, so why not settle for the captaincy. Most of all he has the respect of all the players, his playing record speaks for itself, he will have learnt from watching how Faldo got it wrong, and draw on advice from Seve and others he has played with.
    A word for Sandy Lyle, great player but his time has past, he would have been an ideal candidate for the 1999 match in Boston, besides he has detached himself from the European Tour for several years, also his antics at last year's Open will not have endeared to officialdom.
    As for Woosie being captain again, if he had not captained in 2006, he would be the outstanding choice but repeat captains seem to be out of fashion, otherwise Sam Torrance and Bernhard Langer would get the job.
    So go on Olly, get the Cup back!

  • Comment number 6.

    Sandy Lyle shuld be way down the list of contenders for Ryder Cup Captain. It should come down to competence as a communicator, leading by example and desire to compete and to win. Not because he won two majors in a different era.

    Sandy has been uncompetitive since the last century and the last I heard had walked off a golf course after 9 holes because he was cold and could not see.

    To win in Wales we need someone who can recapture the spirit and the hunger - I would back Woosie, Olly or Langer to get us right.

  • Comment number 7.

    This is an easy decision.

    Lyle should be captain for 2010 -- with Woosnam as Vice Captain.

    I saw an interview with them both at a Snr tour event last year where Woosnam said it was Lyle's turn and he'd be happy to be involved.

    At same time, they should announce Olazabal for 2012 (like they did when Woosnam/Faldo were announced together) -- and he can try to qualify to play for 2010. Could even do Monty for 2014 at same time.

    If he doesn't make it in 2010 -- he can be another Vice-Captain (everyone said Faldo should have had more than 1 this year)


  • Comment number 8.

    I agree with post 4, there does seem to be a natural order to it. Can't help thinking though that Woosie must be the man for Wales. While I don't think he's a tactical genius by any stretch of the imagination he'll have unbelievable support and the atmosphere would certainly be condusive to a European win.

    It's also a no brainer for Olly to do it in the states, he just has the right experience and Monty for Gleneagles is a cert.

    Nothing against Sandy Lyle I'm just trying to pick the right man for the job, horses for courses as it were, not sure where that leaves him though.

  • Comment number 9.

    If Olly is honest with himself he'll admit that at this stage of his career with the health problems he's had it's unlikely he can qualify as a player - he should grab the captaincy with both hands. Is it just me that thinks Monty should never be allowed anywhere near it - Scotland or no Scotland he just doesn't have any of the skills required

  • Comment number 10.

    Lots of nonsense being talked here - the role is largely ceremonial and should be awarded to someone like Sandy Lyle to recognise his contribution to golf. People now talk of Woosie in reverential terms but prior to the event he was basically a laughing stock in the press. The team won and now he's a hero - c'est la vie.

    A lot of people are talking about the likes of Bjorn, Jimenez and McGinley for their perceived motivational qualities - all three are honest tour pros but none of them have hit the heights that merit the captaincy. And if motivational ability is more important than golfing achievement, then why not ask Clive Woodward?

  • Comment number 11.

    My vote, not that it counts for much would be for Sandy Lyle. The team picks itself apart from the 2 Captains picks. Motivation and inspiration Lyle has enough in abundance. He put British golf back on the map after Jacklin had faded into golfing history. He deserves this last moment, his 15 minutes of fame.

    One concern, if it is a concern would be, is he too far removed from the younger lads? That said they looked up to Faldo and he was an unsuccessful captain.

    Give him a chance, Woosie has had his and Ollie, Montgomerie. Westwood and the likes will get theirs. It should be a one off honour to be Captain. Give Lyle that honour.


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