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

Sport
The sun rises over St Andrews golf course, but will it be a new dawn for the Royal and Ancient Golf Club?
sportAnd it's Yes to women (at the R&A)
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
tvSeries celebrates 20th anniversary
Sport
Yaya Touré (left) and Bayern Munich’s Spanish defender Juan Bernat
footballToure's lack of defensive work is big problem for City
Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
Wembley Stadium
footballNews follows deal with Germany
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

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

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week