Golf: Tough choice for James

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The Independent Online
MARK JAMES has set himself a one-month deadline before making the most important decision of his playing career. The 45-year-old was named captain of the European Ryder Cup team 10 months ago, but his form this year has propelled him into seventh place in the European rankings.

Now James must decide whether to accept a dual role of player and captain or forego one of his posts ahead of the tournament at the Brookline course in Boston, the United States, in September. James said: "I said you can't play and captain. I have said that right from the start and everybody seems to be repeating that, It's impossible. But it's too early to speculate on my position on the list. I'm going to wait for another month or so and then it will become fairly obvious if I'm going to become a contender or not. There are a lot of big tournaments coming up in the next few weeks and there may be a few changes on the list by then. Then I will decide what to do and how we should proceed."

James is to take advice from previous captains, Seve Ballesteros and Bernard Gallagher, as he prepares to try and wrest the trophy from the US in September. James said: "I will be speaking to both Seve and Bernard. Just to see if there is a little something to pass on. I don't think there is a huge amount to be learned. I think most of us, especially when you have played in a number of Ryder Cups, are fairly aware of what is going on. But there might be that little something that they can teach me that I have not thought of."

Jose Maria Olazabal looks set to recover from his broken hand in time for the Open championship starting at Carnoustie in 16 days' time. Olazabal, who suffered the injury banging his fist against a hotel bedroom room after a first-round 75 at the US Open two weeks ago, has been told he can start practising again this weekend.

The Masters champion broke the fifth metarcarpal of his right hand and was told it could take anything from three to five weeks to heal fully. At the time the Open was four weeks away. Now the plaster has been removed, and Olazabal has started exercising the hand in between wearing a protective guard just to avoid knocking it.

"He needs a boxing lesson," said his manager, Sergio Gomez, yesterday. "But everything is progressing well, and we plan to be at Carnoustie on the Sunday before the championship."