Spanish star Miguel Angel Jimenez will be out of action for at least three months after breaking his leg in a skiing accident. Jimenez, a vice-captain for Europe's Ryder Cup-winning team, said the injury, suffered in the Sierra Nevada mountains near his home in Malaga, could even take him out of the game until May.
"I was skiing in Sierra Nevada, I lost control and fell," Jimenez said. "I felt a huge stab of pain and I knew straight away I had broken something. The medical staff at Sierra Nevada took me for an X-ray straight away and I am very thankful to them, as well as all of the staff at the hospital, for their quick and professional response.
"I broke the top of the tibia in my right leg, just where it meets the knee, and they put in two pins. It will take three, four or five months to recover and be able to return to competition. I was playing very well but these things happen in life."
He added: "I was playing very well at the end of the season so it is obviously not a good time to get injured. When I took up skiing I knew the risks I was taking but I love it so much I could not stop. It has not all been bad news for me to finish the year, however, and in just a few days I will be opening my new golf school near Torremolinos."
His part in the 2012 Ryder Cup triumph for Europe at Medinah put him in the running to lead the team at Gleneagles in Scotland in two years' time. Europe will announce their captain next month, with Darren Clarke and Paul McGinley the strong favourites to lead the charge against Tom Watson's United States team. Clarke believes the fact Watson was named captain for a second time could point to the committee appointing a man with similar experience.
He said: "We do have an unwritten rule where we don't ask anybody to do it again, but we might have to look at that. We seriously need the right man for the job. (Watson's appointment) could well affect who is appointed. A lot of people, myself included, were surprised when Tom was appointed.
"There are few more iconic figures in golf... it sends out a statement that they are very serious about winning the trophy back."