Olazabal picked as Ryder Cup captain

Published Jan. 18, 2011 12:00 a.m. ET

Jose Maria Olazabal will captain Europe's Ryder Cup team when it defends the trophy against the United States at Medinah in 2012.

The 44-year-old Spaniard, who played in seven Ryder Cups and was Europe's vice-captain for the last two matches, was appointed captain on Tuesday. He succeeds Colin Montgomerie, who guided Europe to a 14 1/2-13 1/2 victory over the U.S. at Celtic Manor in Wales last October.

Olazabal, a two-time Masters champion, was the unanimous choice among Europe's leading players. His appointment was announced by George O'Grady, chief executive of the European Tour.

''It is a great honor to become the European Ryder Cup captain and I will be committed to getting everything right in the build-up to the 2012 match,'' Olazabal said on the European Tour's website. ''I've learned a lot along the way and ... I look forward to drawing on all that knowledge with the aim, of course, to keeping the cup in our possession.''

Two officials involved with the selection process told The Associated Press that Davis Love III will be the U.S. captain in Chicago. They spoke on condition of anonymity Monday because an official announcement is not scheduled until Thursday.

Olazabal has struggled with chronic back problems in recent years, limiting his appearances on tour to just three events in 2010. An essential requirement of the European Tour is that a captain plays a full schedule the year of a Ryder Cup to judge potential team members.

Along with being one of Europe's most popular players over the years, Olazabal has also been one of the team's most successful. He's won 18 and halved five of his 31 matches in the Ryder Cup, and was on the winning side in 1987, 1997 and 2006. He was also a member of the team that retained the trophy in 1989 with a 14-14 draw against the U.S. at The Belfry.


Olazabal was Nick Faldo's vice-captain when the Americans won in Valhalla in 2008. He was a late addition to Montgomerie's staff last year.

Montgomerie, who announced after the win at Celtic Manor that he would be stepping down as captain, said at the time that Olazabal would be ''everybody's choice'' to take over.

''We all know the Ryder Cup is one of the most exciting and important competitions in the golfing calendar,'' Olazabal said. ''There is nothing like holding that trophy.''


AP Golf Writer Doug Ferguson contributed to this report.