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Olazabal to hold off on Ryder Cup picks

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ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates - Ryder Cup captain Jose Maria Olazabal will announce his Europe team on Aug. 27, a move he said Tuesday will ensure players don’t learn their fate while playing the final day of The Barclays tournament.

Paul Casey came to symbolize the hazards of the selection process in 2010 when he learned that Europe captain Colin Montgomerie had not picked him as he played the seventh hole of The Barclays. Afterward, Casey admitted the fact his playing partner Padraig Harrington was chosen made it difficult to concentrate.

The announcement will be made at Gleneagles in Scotland, which hosts the Johnny Walker Championship.

Olazabal said Monday ahead of this week’s Abu Dhabi Championship the timing of the selection gives him a chance to see how players perform at The Barclays.

“Looking at it when it happened, as I said, it was not a comfortable situation for anybody,” Olazabal said of the 2010 selection process. “I think it would be fair for anybody that is playing in the States, that might be on the verge of winning that tournament, and making a change on his possibilities of being in the team. It would be completely unfair to name those two picks before the guy even tees off.”

The 45-year-old Olazabal, whose impressive Ryder Cup record includes 18 wins and five halves in 31 matches, said he has yet to choose a vice captain adding “it was too early.”

Olazabal said he would not reconsider his earlier decision to choose only two wild cards for the team, down from the three that Montgomery had chosen. He has said that he wants players to play for the top spots, rather than counting on a wild card.

“I’m not going to take any second thoughts on that. I’m going to sleep really, really well with that decision,” Olazabal said.

“I think, as I said it last year, for anybody to be in those top 10 spots, they will have to play really well during the season from September to September,” he said. “So I think those guys deserve to be in the team, if they are in those top 10 spots. And I think two picks is good enough in the sense that you might have a scenario like we have at the moment with Paul Casey being injured, not being able to play.”

Olazabal has struggled with a bad back and hasn’t won in seven years. But the 596th-ranked Spaniard briefly held the lead after three rounds of the Volvo Golf Champions last weekend, prompting questions about whether he might just play at the Ryder Cup.

“I made it clear, I made it clear to everyone, and I want to make it clear to the team,” Olazabal said. “Even if skies fall on me and I manage to play well and win a lot of tournaments and make the team, I am not playing in it, period.”

Europe has won six of the last eight Ryder Cups, including the dramatic finish in Wales two years ago. The Ryder Cup was decided by the final singles match for the first time since 1991 after the Americans rallied from a three-point deficit on the last day.

The tournament will be played Sept. 25-30 at the Medinah Country Club. Medinah has hosted three U.S. Opens (1949, 1975 and 1990) along with two PGA Championships (1999 and 2006). It also hosted the 1988 U.S. Senior Open.

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