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Olazabal has heart and soul in Cup

By Karl MacGinty

Jose Maria Olazabal put it best. “The Ryder Cup is welded in my heart,” said the 44-year-old Spaniard yesterday, as his appointment as European captain for the 2012 matches in Chicago was officially announced in Abu Dhabi.

When it came to playing against the United States, he and Seve Ballesteros shared the same soul. Seve was the first man Olazabal phoned last Friday with news of his decision to lead Europe into action at Medinah and despite the ravages of chemotherapy, Ballesteros, as ever, made his protégé laugh as they kicked over the embers of past Ryder Cups.

As a rookie, then just 21, Olazabal was shaking like a leaf inside as he and Ballesteros walked from the putting green to the first tee for their Friday morning foursomes encounter with American idols Larry Nelson and Payne Stewart on his Ryder Cup debut at Muirfield Village in 1987.

“I remember very clearly what Seve said to me as we walked along,” Olazabal recounted. “Just try to play your game, enjoy the moment and I'll take care of the rest.”

As Ryder Cup captain, Olazabal will be very much his own man, which became patently clear yesterday as he insisted the number of wild card picks available to the European skipper should revert to two in 2012.

Olazabal stated: “The more picks you have the less value you give to the qualifying system. You have to play extremely good golf to be in the top five in world ranking points. To have two picks is my wish. That's my desire.”

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