European Tour

Olazabal ready to end long injury absence

2016-10-12 15:47
Jose Maria Olazabal (File)

Watford - Former Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal is set to return to the European Tour after an 18-month injury absence.

Olazabal will tee off in the British Masters, which starts at The Grove, north of London, on Thursday, as the Spaniard competes for the first time since missing the halfway cut at the 2015 Masters.

Since captaining Europe to victory in the 2014 Ryder Cup, the 50-year old has contested just six events due to struggles with rheumatoid arthritis in his joints.

But after spending the past five weeks practising in San Sebastian, Spain, Olazabal is quitely optimistic of playing all four rounds.

"The last two weeks, I have played six rounds on my home course and that's about all I could manage," he said on Wednesday.

"So it's going to be nice to get a score-card back into my pocket this week, but it could depend on the numbers if it's going to be a decent week.

"I am feeling better but I'm still not 100 percent fit. The pain is not so bad now, as it gets a bit painful from time to time, but that's just getting old.

"So I am going to play this week and next week's Portugal Masters and see how it goes."

Among the first to greet Olazabal with a big hug on The Grove practice range was England's Lee Westwood, who had won two of three Ryder Cup matches in 2012 under Olazabal's captaincy at Medinah.

Westwood was less successful during Europe's recent Ryder Cup defeat in the United States.

And after watching the event on television, Olazabal declared the US simply played the better golf.

"I watched every single shot in the Ryder Cup and the Americans just played better than we did," he said.

"The way that Davis (Love 111) had the golf course set-up meant it was always going to be hard for Europe to win.

"There was just no rough out there and someone saying to me that there were five eagles and 72 birdies during the singles and not all matches went the full 18-hole distance.

"The Europeans can hold their heads high but they just came up against a red-hot American side who holed more putts."

Read more on:    european tour  |  jose maria olazabal  |  golf

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