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Friday, 19 March 2010
Masters Champion José Maria Olazábal returns to Europe and his native Spain for the first time since his superb triumph at Augusta National two weeks ago.

Olazábal, who held off the challenge of a world-class field to win his second Green Jacket just two years after returning from an injury which threatened his career, has also won 17 European Tour titles but the Peugeot Open de España has so far eluded him. Last year he finished joint second behind his Ryder Cup team-mate Thomas Björn.

Also in the field is his compatriot Sergio Garcia who also enjoyed great success at the Masters Tournament when he became the first British Amateur Champion to finish low amateur after competing for all four rounds at Augusta National.

Indeed the line-up at El Prat, Barcelona, includes no fewer than four Masters Champions - Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo, Bernhard Langer and Olazábal - who have won the Green Jacket nine times between them in the past two decades. Eight of the 1999 European Tour champions are also in the field.

Björn returns to defend the title he won by a shot from Olazábal and Australian left-hander Greg Chalmers. A pair of 66s over the weekend secured his second title of the season and third European Tour triumph in total. After a five-week break Björn overhauled Chalmers and Olazábal by chipping in at the 16th in the final round.

Having returned to El Prat last year after a 17-year break, the Peugeot Open de España will once again take place over the par-72 layout which runs alongside the sea. Each hole has its own character starting with the opening hole with trees to the right and bunkers to the left of the driving area. On the sixth five bunkers and a lake short of the 224 yards hole conspire to reduce birdie chances.

The toughest hole on the course, the 455-yards 14th, dog-legs to the right with palm trees a constant threat on the way to a triple-tiered green.

The first Open de España, played in 1912, was won by Arnaud Massey, the first overseas winner of the Open Championship. Since then Max Faulkner, Peter Thomson, Roberto de Vicenzo, Arnold Palmer, Seve Ballesteros and Nick Faldo have won both the Spanish and Open Championship titles.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1ROCCA, CostantinoITA18-7
2OLDCORN, AndrewSCO18-6
3ROE, MarkENG18-4
4RIVERO, JoséESP18-3
5BALLESTEROS, SeveESP18-2
6SANDELIN, JarmoSWE--21
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