Olazabal closes on Ryder captaincy as his last few rivals give their blessing

Jose Maria Olazabal could be appointed as Colin Montgomerie's successor as early as next week. A European Tour source has revealed the Tournament Players Committee will discuss who will lead the defence of the Ryder Cup in Chicago at a meeting in Portugal on Tuesday – and such is the support for the Spaniard the position of Europe captain will be his to accept or decline.

The path seems set for a quick announcement, as Olazabal yesterday declared: "I would love the role." But before his backers – who include Montgomerie – become too excited it is understood he might not be ready to make a commitment yet because of his ongoing fight with rheumatoid arthritis. If this is the case, then the committee will give him until the start of next year to decide.

Olazabal found himself the target of a barrage of persuasion at the celebration party on Monday night, held at Celtic Manor a few hours after Europe had regained the trophy in an excruciatingly tense finale.

"It was mentioned by the players and by Monty, but there is just one issue and that is my health," said Olazabal. "I would love to do it, but you have to fulfil certain things. For instance, I think you need to be close to the players and play with them during the qualifying process and that's why it is the only question mark. But if I do think my health is OK there'll be one answer – yes"

Even though Olazabal has played only one competitive event in the last year, Montgomerie is of the opinion that the affirmation should come sooner rather than later. He co-opted Olazabal into the team room as his fifth vice-captain after the first day of the extended match and was impressed by his contribution in the gripping one-point victory. "Jose Maria did brilliantly as one of my assistants and I think now is his time," said the Scot yesterday. "He is 45 and it seems to be a young man's game. He will do as good if not a better job than I did."

That appeared to be the unanimous consensus as the players left the Gwent resort. "He is the choice of all the players," said Padraig Harrington. And even the two men who would be considered Olazabal's main rivals for the post, Paul McGinley and Darren Clarke, expressed their wish to see the dual major winner installed. There is also a political angle to the Olly clamour as Europe have not had a continental captain since Bernhard Langer in 2004 and there has been unrest about this fact on the Tour.

Olazabal was even asked about the captaincy subject by the overwhelming favourite to take over the American team. Davis Love said: "Yeah, I did, but we ended up talking about how much we wanted to be play." If Love, 46, decides to try to qualify for one last time then the focus will turn to the Presidents Cup captain, Fred Couples, and Justin Leonard. Whoever takes over will have an imbalance to redress. "This will sting," said Love.

There were plenty of heads stinging as the teams dispersed yesterday. The Americans boarded an early flight from Cardiff, while the Europeans left in dribs and, decidedly, drabs. Nine of the team are playing in the Dunhill Links Championship, which tees off tomorrow, and were having to travel up to Fife in time for today's practice rounds. Montgomerie, himself, is playing in the pro-am event and was planning to use the seven-hour drive back home to Perthshire with his wife, Gaynor, "to reflect". "We will turn off the radio, turn off the phones and just talk about it," he said. "By the time I get home I will be a lot better and able to put the whole thing into some sort of perspective."

As he was first in his bed at midnight, Montgomerie was able to philosophise more intensely than his men, many of whom did not return to their rooms until daybreak. Apart from the obligatory big-money ping-pong games between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, the highlight of the night was apparently when Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood, Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell got up on stage to sing Tom Jones numbers. Montgomerie was tucked up by then, but could tell the way things were going.

"I left the trophy with Lee Westwood, who was on stage singing with it," he said. "That was the last I saw of it until this morning when it came down polished and unfingerprinted and unbashed."

The raucous night after is now a Ryder Cup tradition as are the statements of big intentions from the main players. While McDowell, the man who earned the point which gave Europe their sixth win in eight matches, is the favourite to win the British Sports Personality of the Year – having also won the US Open – others like Poulter are looking to the year's end to work out how to transfer the intensity he showed at Celtic Manor from the team environment to the individual workplace.

"I have tried to recreate the Ryder Cup scenario every damn single week," he said. " I can't do it. I need the 30,000 people cheering me on. Not many people have been able to do it. That's why I need to take a month off. My body is empty – I have nothing left. This week takes it out of you. Every single time. It takes weeks to get over it."

Westwood will try to do it in a few days as he eyes the win at the Dunhill which would hand him the world No 1 tag. "I want to be No 1 in Tiger's era, while he's still a great player," said the Englishman. "I'm 37 and know I've got to do it soon."

The other candidates

Darren Clarke

Popular Ulsterman is big in America and commands respect in the European team room. His laid-back demeanour sat well with the players at Celtic Manor and it would be a huge surprise if he is not captain one day.

Paul McGinley

The Dubliner is a real thinker, who has his own ideas about captaincy. Colin Montgomerie relied heavily on his intelligence in Newport and he does have huge support at grass-roots level.

Miguel Angel Jimenez

The Spaniard emerged as one of the main characters at Celtic Manor and would be the obvious continental candidate if Jose Maria Olazabal pulled out. The team room would not be short of cigars. Or rioja.

The morning after: What the Ryder stars tweeted

Why do you wake up early when you've had way too much alcohol the night before, yes I have a sore head but its well worth the celebration.

IanJamesPoulter

Can I just say one thing.......wow!!!!!

Graeme_McDowell

What a week!! Think I'm still drunk! Jaegerbombs out of the Ryder Cup! Great banter with euros and Americans last night!

McIlroyRory

@PaulAzinger - Thanks Zinger it's was a special 1 for sure. I love it like u do. & yes it will be polished & no your not having it back.

IanJamesPoulter

I had to tweet live from the closing ceremony yesterday it needed to be shared with the world, people will understand

IanJamesPoulter

Tiger and phil were beating everyone at table tennis last night!

McIlroyRory

In the team room last night singing we are the champions. The party was fully under way.

IanJamesPoulter

News
Netherlands' goalkeeper Tim Krul fails to make a save from Costa Rica's midfielder Celso Borges during a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-final between Netherlands and Costa Rica during the 2014 FIFA World Cup
newsGoalkeepers suffer from 'gambler’s fallacy' during shoot-outs
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
artCultural relations between Sydney and Melbourne soured by row over milk crate art instillation
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features playground gun massacre
News
Two giraffes pictured on Garsfontein Road, Centurion, South Africa.
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
Travel
travel
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations should be regarded as an offensive act
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleBenidorm, actor was just 68
News
people
News
i100This Instagram photo does not prove Russian army is in Ukraine
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
News
i100
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Environment
Tyred out: should fair weather cyclists have a separate slow lane?
environmentFormer Labour minister demands 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists
News
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices