Olazabal set to take Montgomerie's Ryder Cup crown

SPANIARD Jose Maria Olazabal is expected to be named as Europe's next Ryder Cup captain next month.

A press conference has been scheduled for January 18 in Abu Dhabi, where the European Tour's four-week Middle East swing begins two days later.

Olazabal might well have led the side at Celtic Manor in October, but hesitated over throwing his hat into the ring and the Tour's tournament committee instead turned to Scotland's Colin Montgomerie.

Immediately after regaining the trophy in Wales, Montgomerie confirmed that he had no intention standing for re-election and gave his support to Olazabal taking over from him for the 2012 match at Medinah in Chicago.

The only problem for the Spaniard, who with Seve Ballesteros formed the most successful partnership in cup history, has been his health. He has been battling rheumatic pains for well over a decade and played only one tournament in the first nine months of this year.

But even if he cannot commit himself to a full schedule next season he is the obvious candidate for the captaincy after serving as Nick Faldo's assistant in Louisville two years ago.

Persistent rain forced organisers to abandon the first day of the South African Open in Durban.

The adverse weather conditions meant only half the field teed off at the 100th edition of the competition, with just six players completing nine holes.

Retief Goosen led a five-way tie at the top of the leaderboard when play was halted with the two-time former champion on two under par (through four holes), alongside Scotland's David Drysdale (seven), Thorbjorn Olesen from Denmark (eight) and fellow South Africans Divan van den Heever (six) and Martin Maritz (six).

Norwegian Marius Thorp and home pair Willie van der Merwe and Colin Nel – three of the players that did manage to beat the rain and finish nine holes – sit a shot off the leaders.

They are part of a 12-man group on one under with Britons David Howell (six) and Scott Jamieson (three) as well as Open champion Louis Oosthuizen (six) also part of that group.

Defending champion Richie Ramsay was on one over through four holes – the Scot's solitary bogey coming on the par-four 11th – with the likes of Ernie Els and Tim Clark, both past winners, having to wait 24 hours for their first round.

The persistent drizzle at the Durban Country Club made parts of the course unplayable. It left organisers having to wait more than five-and-a-half hours before they made a final call on proceedings. Round one will be played today and round two tomorrow.