Jose Maria Olazabal has only played one other tournament this year
Jose Maria Olazabal says worries over his health could force him to turn down Europe's Ryder Cup captaincy in 2012 should it be offered.
The seven-time Ryder Cup player is favourite to take over from Colin Montgomerie for the biennial team event against the United States in Medinah.
But Olazabal, 44, has been dogged by injuries and ill-health.
"It would hurt me to say 'no' but if it is the right decision my conscience will be clear," said the Spaniard.
Olazabal is a two-time Masters champion and was
backed by Montgomerie
to replace the Scot following
Europe's victory over the United States
at Celtic Manor at the start of October.
"I hope Jose Maria will be well enough to be the next captain," said Montgomerie at the time.
"It was between him and me for the captaincy this time and in two years' time he'll be 46, just a year younger than I am now."
Olazabal has suffered with rheumatic pain in his back and shoulders for the past two years and has played just one competitive event in 2010.
He also lost two years to rheumatoid arthritis in his feet in the mid 1990s.
"If the committee decides it's going to be me as the next captain, I need to talk with them beforehand to see how we can solve the possible inconvenience that I may not be on the Tour playing that much," said Olazabal on the eve of this week's Castello Masters where he will make his latest comeback.
"I have been thinking about it for a long while and that's why I put the issue on the table. So I can see the situation where I will have to say 'no' and that will be only because of my health.
"But if they appoint me I somehow have to be close to the players, somehow be able to compete alongside them, talk to them, to see how they think, and just be close to the Tour through the qualifying process."
Olazabal said he was making "slow progress" in his battle to regain fitness but was "heading in the right direction".
"I'm feeling better, though not 100% well. I'm still in pain and need to go on improving in order to perform at full level," he said.
Olazabal's only 2010 tournament was the French Open in July and it did not give him too much encouragement as he missed the cut in Versailles with rounds of 82 and 70.
Olazabal is joined in Spain by compatriot Sergio Garcia who makes his own comeback after a two-month break from the sport.
Garcia withdrew from frontline golf following a 19-month title drought that has seen him slump from undisputed world number two to 68th.
I needed the break, I had lost the desire to play, and practising had become an obligation
Having seen his renewed enthusiasm for the game cemented while one of Europe's vice-captains during the nail-biting Ryder Cup win, the 30-year-old has decided to make his playing comeback at his home club, the Club de Campo del Mediterraneo course where his father works.
"I feel fine after my two-month break," said Garcia.
"I made the decision to stop between The Players (Championship) and the US Open, as I had lost my motivation and felt drained.
"I needed the break, I had lost the desire to play, and practising had become an obligation.
"Now, on the contrary, I feel full of energy, and actually enjoy practising. I have set myself new goals and look forward to performing again at the top level.
"I have been doing different things these two months - other sports and relaxing with my friends and family.
"I have also been working on my mental approach with a sophrologist (self-help expert) to help me put things in the right place. I know more about myself and feel able to answer my own questions.
"I now have clear goals: for a start, I want to win the Castello Masters and the remaining tournaments and then I want to return gradually to where I should be, and perform to my full potential, i.e. be world number one.
"I needed to miss the game a little bit. Obviously I missed it - that's why I am back."