Spain's Jose Maria Olazabal was named the next captain of Europe's 2012 Ryder Cup team.

Olazabal, 44, will succeed Colin Montgomerie and lead Europe in their bid to defend the title at Illinois in September, 2012.

The veteran has played seven Ryder Cups and was the vice-captain in the last two tournaments.

After the announcement was made on Tuesday, Olazabal said, The two Masters wins at Augusta National are the highlight of my playing career. But this is my proudest moment.

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.

Without question the Ryder Cup has given me many memorable times. We all know it 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.

Olazábal made his Ryder Cup debut in 1987 and has since gone on to help the European team in seven Cups. He is noteworthy for his partnerships with fellow Spaniards Seve Ballesteros and then with Sergio García in 2006. Olazábal holds world record distance for a completed putt and was elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2009 with 56 percent vote of the international ballot.