Olazabal relishing Ryder Cup battle at European Masters

Jose Maria Olazabal
Olazabal had feared that health fears might force him to turn down the captaincy

Europe captain Jose Maria Olazabal says he is looking forward to watching the battle for Ryder Cup spots unfold as the first event in the race for 2012 qualification looms on the horizon.

The European Masters at Crans-sur-Sierre begins on Thursday with six of 2010's victorious team in the field.

"I'm excited the qualification period is starting. It will be interesting to see how the players perform," he said.

Ten players will qualify automatically, with Olazabal choosing two wildcards.

Lee Westwood, Rory McIlroy, Martin Kaymer, Miguel Angel Jimenez and brothers Edoardo and Francesco Molinari begin their campaigns in the Swiss Alps.

Five players will qualify through the European Tour's points list, while the same number will be decided by the world rankings.

Luke Donald, Graeme McDowell, Ian Poulter and Padraig Harrington will be hoping to make fast starts to their own qualification campaigns in the latest round of the FedEx Cup play-offs in Boston on Friday.

"It is going to be very difficult to make the team - to be one of the top five on the European points list or the world points list is going to be tough," added Olazabal.

"The players will have to play really well to make it and I am sure they are preparing themselves to peak at the right times so that we can have the best chance to win."

The 2012 Ryder Cup takes place at the Medinah Country Club in Illinois between 25 and 30 September 2012.