Ryder Cup captaincy is Ollie's 'proudest moment'
Jose Maria Olazabal today described becoming Europe's new Ryder Cup captain "my proudest moment".
The 44-year-old Spaniard, always the favourite to succeed Colin Montgomerie, become just the third continental European to lead the side.
Seve Ballesteros, with whom he lost only two of 15 games, won at Valderrama in 1997 and then six years ago Bernhard Langer was in charge when Europe won by a record nine-point margin in Detroit.
"The two Masters wins at Augusta National are the highlight of my playing career, but this is my proudest moment," said Olazabal, seven times capped and a vice-captain in the last two matches.
"Golf has been my life and representing Europe in the Ryder Cup has given me so much enjoyment, so to be named the European Ryder Cup captain is something very special and I am looking forward to the next 20 months before we reach Medinah (in Chicago).
"Without question the Ryder Cup has given me many memorable times, especially with Seve from the moment we were first partners in 1987 and Europe won in America for the first time.
"We were unbeaten in 1989 and 1991 and we won our last match together in 1993.
"It was also a wonderful experience to be involved as a vice-captain with Nick Faldo in 2008 and then again with Colin Montgomerie when we regained the Cup at Celtic Manor last year.
"I've learned a lot along the way and linked to my own experiences I look forward to drawing on all that knowledge with the aim, of course, to keeping the cup in our possession.
"We all know the Ryder Cup is one of the most exciting and important competitions in the golfing calendar and that it always inspires team members and spectators alike, but there is nothing like holding that trophy at the end of the week.
"I have spent a lot of my career in America and the fans there have always been fair to me. We want to keep the cup and that will be our priority, but I know that the American team will share with us the desire for this match to continue the fabulous tradition of the Ryder Cup with fair play and good sportsmanship the vital ingredients.
"I have accepted the captaincy, but I think my desire to keep playing is known by everyone.
"This (Abu Dhabi Championship) is the first of four tournaments in succession I am playing on the Desert Swing of the European Tour. I am looking forward to competing again and giving myself the chance to win.
"But I want to stress it is a great honour to become the European Ryder Cup captain and I will be committed to getting everything right in the build-up to the 2012 match."
Olazabal competed only three times last year because of a continuing battle with rheumatism, but starting this week hopes to play considerably more events this season and right through to the defence of the trophy in Chicago in September next year.
Corey Pavin's successor as American captain will be unveiled on Thursday. It is expected to be Davis Love, one of his backroom team in Wales.
Sam Torrance, captain at The Belfry in 2002, told Sky Sports News: "He is a great choice. It was inevitable really and I think this is the right time for him.
"His heart is in it - he loves the Ryder Cup. At Valhalla he virtually had the whole team in tears.
"Americans love Ollie as well, so that's good, and I think it's imperative that you are a vice-captain before you are captain."