Jose Maria Olazabal, vice-captain of the European team in this year’s Ryder Cup is almost certainly going to contribute in a non-playing role only. Olazabal has played in seven Ryder Cups, most recently in Ireland in 2006. He has battled bravely against different forms of rheumatism and arthritis for over a decade, famously coming back from crippling arthritis in his foot to win the Augusta Masters in 1999.
Olazabal’s Ryder Cup legacy will always be highlighted by his association with his fellow Spaniard, Seve Ballesteros. When the young Olazabal emerged onto the scene in 1987, he was mentored and partnered by the seasoned Ballesteros and they struck up one of the most successful combinations in Ryder Cup history.
Olazabal’s rheumatism appears quite acute, affecting his back, shoulder and knees. Despite that, he is playing for the first time in seven months this week at the Anadalucia Open, where has successfully made the cut. He claims that he’s comfortable with swinging the club but finds trouble with walking and bending. His assessment of his Ryder Cup playing chances was quite fatalistic:
“Unless I completely recover right away and my game hits standards I haven’t yet reached in my life before, as far as playing is concerned, I am out of the picture”