JOSE Maria Olazabal’s admission that he would relish the opportunity of leading the European team in Medinah in 2012 will have certainly come as a welcome boost for the Ryder Cup committee, who would surely have had him as frontrunner in any case.
But this is by no means a closed book.
No captain has retained the job since Bernard Gallacher led Europe to victory at the third time of asking in 1995 and Colin Montgomerie’s decision to stand down after leading the team to glory at Celtic Manor has set the ball rolling for a whole new selection process with several big names in the running to succeed him.
Olly, naturally, is many people’s No1 pick. He has a proud playing record in the Ryder Cup and is well respected by the players.
Who can forget his rousing speech as vice-captain to Nick Faldo at Valhalla two years ago, and his late call-up to assist Monty at Celtic Manor was clearly a popular move.
I just hope that his health stands up to allow him to play enough on the Tour to help him keep that closeness that you need with the players.
But while Olly will start as many people’s favourite, the Ryder Cup committee do have a very healthy selection dilemma on their hands.
Like Olazabal, Darren Clarke has huge Ryder Cup pedigree but while it’s not too early for him to get the job, he, I’m sure, will be setting his sights on boarding the plane to Medinah in a playing capacity.
Darren’s co-vice captains at Celtic Manor, Thomas Bjorn and Paul McGinley, also have bags of experience and are more than capable of stepping into the breach and leading the side.
But these two have plenty of time on their side and it is probably more likely that either will take the reins for Gleneagles in 2014.