Ryder Cup captain debate delayed until next year

The identity of Europe's next Ryder Cup captain will not be known until January 2009 at the earliest.

It had been expected that the European Tour's tournament committee would discuss the contenders during their meeting at this week's Dunhill Links Championship, with a view to naming Nick Faldo's successor in January.

However, that meeting was taken up by the debate over the minimum number of tournaments required to be a member of the European Tour - subsequently increased from 11 to 12 - and the captaincy was not on the agenda.

"It wasn't even brought up," committee member Barry Lane told PA Sport. "But I'm sure it will be top of the agenda at the next meeting in Abu Dhabi in January."

Committee chairman Thomas Bjorn had earlier stated: "I don't want to go into a meeting where people haven't thought about it.

"It's now such a big thing that we have to have the feeling of the players in general as well as the guys on the committee.

"Because it's such a big thing, we may decide to do it later than January just to make sure that we make what we think is the right decision."

That would appear to increase the chances of Jose Maria Olazabal becoming captain at Celtic Manor in 2010. Olazabal was Faldo's vice-captain at Valhalla and impressed the players with his passion - Padraig Harrington revealing he had the players in tears with a speech in the team room on Saturday evening.

Immediately after the defeat in Kentucky, Olazabal said he wanted to get back to full fitness and try to play in two years' time, adding: "If they wanted a decision by the end of this year, I'm not going to be able to give them that.

"The scenario is that my condition is improving and I'm feeling better. I'm not 100% pain-free but I'm hoping that I might be able to play one or two events at the end of the year to see how the back holds up.

"I'm looking next year to be back playing golf and that's why I cannot give an answer that soon."

Sandy Lyle and Ian Woosnam are the other leading contenders, with Woosnam unsurprisingly a popular choice to captain the side on home soil, four years after leading the team to a record-equalling victory at the K Club.

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