Jose Maria Olazabal signs off 'special week' with Seve-like smile

Jose Maria Olazabal made the cut in the 85th Masters for the first time since 2014 on the day his great friend, Seve Ballesteros, would have celebrated his 64th birthday. “I miss him a lot, so that was a very emotional day,” admitted the two-time winner at Augusta National.

Jose Maria Olazabal lines up a putt during the 85th Masters at Augusta National Golf Club. Picture: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images.

It wasn’t quite the same as Ballesteros standing on the 18th green at St Andrews and producing his iconic celebration in the 1984 Open, but, boy, did Olazabal enjoy rolling in a 25-foot birdie putt across the green at the 18th in the closing circuit in Georgia.

“A special week,” admitted Olazabal, who followed in his great compatriot’s footsteps by claiming a first Green Jacket in 1994 then repeating the feat five years later. “Really proud of making the cut. Happy the way I played.

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“I mis-hit a few shots here and there that cost me dearly, especially today on seven and eight (dropping four shots at those two holes), but the rest of the round I played solid today. It was pretty much the same all week long, and in that regard, I take quite a few positive things from this week. Great to be here at the weekend.”

While compatriot Miguel Angel Jimenez has racked up 10 title triumphs on the Champions Tour over the past few years, Olazabal has not yet managed to make his mark in the over-50s game.

“I still need to improve certain areas of my game, mainly the driver,” said the man who led Europe to the ‘Miracle at Medinah’ in the 2012 Ryder Cup. “ I hit a lot of fairways this week, but still not as sharp as the rest of the game, and that's the area that I need to improve on, but if I do that, the rest of the game at least this week was pretty nice.

“The idea is to play a few events, mainly the whole Champions Tour, and see if I can somehow enjoy the game as I did this week.”

Recalling his breakthrough win at the top level as Hideki Matsuyama tried to become Japan’s first men’s major winner, the 55-year-old said: “I don't know if it changes your life, but it changes your career.”

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