Olazabal unfit for Ryder Cup

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The Independent Online
Golfreports from Colorado

Jose-Maria Olazabal last night announced here that he is unlikely to accept an invitation to play for Europe in the Ryder Cup against the United States in Rochester, New York, next month.

Olazabal, in Denver for the Sprint International Tournament, said he was suffering from back problems related to his injured right foot and he would not be sufficiently fit to endure the arduous test of Ryder Cup competition.

The Spaniard has been hobbling appreciably around the hilly and demanding Castle Pines course, set some 6,300ft in the Rocky Mountain foothills just south of the Colorado State capital. The European Ryder Cup squad is due to be announced after next week's German Open in Stuttgart.

Olazabal, who will contest next week's World Series in Ohio, is placed 11th in the Ryder Cup standings, with no chance of automatically qualifying. Bernard Gallacher, the captain, is permitted two selections, one of whom undoubtedly will be Nick Faldo; the other is a toss up between Olazabal and the Welshman Ian Woosnam.

Olazabal has yet to discuss his health with Gallacher and will do so once his commitments in Ohio are completed. "I still have to talk to Bernard, because the deadline is next week but most probably I will decline the invitation to play in the team," he said.

Woosnam, who may yet play himself into contention, was reportedly outspoken at last week's US PGA. He criticised Olazabal for not contesting the remaining two events on the European tour leading up to the announcement of the 12-man European Ryder Cup squad.

Olazabal indicated he was unaware of Woosnam's comments but stated: "I decided to play the International and the World Series in America because I feel I am not in a position physically to be in the team and it's as simple as that."

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