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Watching instead of playing will be hard, admits Olazabal
VIRGINIA WATER, England (PA) -- Jose Maria Olazabal admits he will find it "tough" to deal with a non-playing role at the Ryder Cup, but insists he is happy to be part of the European set-up heading to Valhalla.
The Spaniard is a veteran of seven Ryder Cups and formed part of the European team that won so handsomely at the K Club two years ago. However, the 42-year-old has been beset by rheumatism-related injuries in recent times that robbed him of the chance of attempting to play his way on to the team for Valhalla.
Nick Faldo has opted to tap into Olazabal's experience by making him his assistant captain for the showdown in Kentucky. And while disappointed to be missing out, the Spaniard is hoping to play a part in a fourth consecutive European victory.
"It's going to be tough for me, I have to say," he told The 2008 Ryder Cup Countdown on Sky Sports.
"I've been part of the team as a player all those years and to be just on the side watching the players playing and not being able to hit a shot and be part of that team as a player is going to be tough," he explained. "But I wanted to do it and I'm looking forward to it and I wanted to do it because it will be a great learning experience for me.
"I've been on the other side of the picture, I've been down the stretch under pressure, I know what the players go through in those situations," he added. "I can help the players in that regard to make them feel more comfortable, and if they need water or a banana I'll be there!"
As well as Ryder Cup experience, Olazabal also brings an intimate knowledge of the course hosting the event. In the 2000 PGA Championship, held at the same venue, Olazabal fired a sensational third-round of 63 to set a new course record.
That mark still stands, and the Spaniard already knows what kind of information he will be passing on to the European players.
"I think it's going to be a good Ryder Cup match," he continued. "You are going to have to hit a lot of good tee shots, otherwise you are not going to be able to attack some of the flags because they can be really tight to the corners.
"There are a lot of undulations on the greens and you're going to need a wonderful short game around the greens and a lot will depend on how much rough there is around the greens," he said. "The back nine (at Valhalla) is tighter, the greens are extremely well-protected and it's quite demanding, to be honest."