Jose Maria Olazabal does not want to be Ryder Cup vice captain again

By: samjack

Last week Olazabal refuted claims by Montgomerie that he had agreed to be vice-captain for the 2010 tournament against the United States at Celtic Manor.

Torrance, who led Europe to victory in 2002, believes the Spaniard does not want the job since he was Nick Faldo’s right-hand man during the team’s defeat at Valhalla last year.

“You have to understand Ollie [Olazabal] has done his stint as vice-captain and it is a huge learning experience for the captaincy, but he doesn’t want to be the second-in-command anymore,” Torrance said.

Olazabal is a strong favourite to be appointed captain for the 2012 Ryder Cup at Medinha, Illinois.

While he would not predict who Montgomerie might choose, Torrance wrote off Sandy Lyle’s chances of getting the job because the 50-year-old twice major champion is out of touch with the main European Tour players.

“I’m sorry for Sandy but I don’t think he is the right man now,” Torrance added. “Great players sometimes don’t get the captaincy. Peter Alliss and Peter Oosterhuis are prime examples.”

Torrance, meanwhile, is hoping that regular matches with Tim Henman – at golf not tennis – will pay dividends when he extends his record number of appearances on the European Tour this week.

The 55-year-old Scot, whose debut was way back in 1972, plays his 705th event in the Estoril Portuguese Open at Oitavos Dunes.

That is 81 more than anybody else – next in the table comes England’s Barry Lane, who is also in the field – and Torrance said: “I’ve been playing three or four times a week at Sunningdale and playing a lot with Tim.

“He’s very competitive and I’ve benefited from it. He’s a one-handicapper and I give him one shot. He breaks par every time virtually and has shot 66 round the New Course.

“He’s only 34 so he’s 16 years away from the Seniors Tour, but he could compete right now.”

Torrance won on the over-50s circuit in Barbados two weeks ago, but because they do not have their next event for over a month he sought and was granted an invitation to this week’s £1.1 million tournament.

“It might be delusions of grandeur, but I’m here to play, I know the course and I’m looking forward to it.”

Defending champion this week is Frenchman Gregory Bourdy, who beat former Ryder Cup star David Howell and Scot Alastair Forsyth in a play-off last April.

For Howell that was a welcome return to the spotlight after falling from ninth in the world to outside the top 200.

The Swindon golfer also finished seventh in The Open and third in the Johnnie Walker Championship and rose from 142nd on the Order of Merit to 45th.

But after seven events this season he has yet to finish in the top 30 and is down at 147th in the Race To Dubai.

“The total number of 7,000 might seem like lots but in China that’s hardly anything so I think he’s going to be looking

Hickory clubs, in which the shaft is made from the wood of the decidious tree, have become highly collectable after they were replaced by more modern materials, such as carbon fibre.

While players initially carved their own clubs and balls from wood, they soon turned to skilled craftsmen to produce competitive equipment.

Mr Dixon, who has been running the Leith-based antique business with his brother Padraig for 30 years, said the clubs would all need to be restored.

He said: “There is a lot of work that needs to be put into a hickory club before it is playable. The shaft needs [to be] re-oiled and the grips will need redone.

“But when they are ready, there is a massive attraction in using them. Picking up a hickory club for the first time is a reality pinch for all golf lovers.

“It’s part of the sport’s history and playing with the old club is a chance to play with the same tools that some of the most skilful golfers ever played with.”

Chris Homer, a world-renowned hickory player, said it is likely the Chinese entrepreneur will launch a hickory golf business in his native country.

Mr Homer, 60, has been running hickory golf events across Scotland for 13 years and recently took his own collection to Canada where 1,300 players took part in a hickory championship.

He said: “It’s very interesting that one man would want to buy so many clubs. But there are a number of new golf courses popping up in China and it’s fair to say there is a real boom in golf taking place.

“He is probably taking the business idea of hickory golf to China and he could make a very nice little business out of it.”

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