Wednesday, 30 June 2010
 Jose Maria Olazabal   (Getty Images)
Jose Maria Olazabal (Getty Images)
Spain's José Maria Olazábal returns to action this week at the Alstom Open de France with "no expectations" regarding his performance.

The event at Le Golf National near Paris is Olazábal's first event since last October and it is also likely to be his last for a few months.

"I'm giving it a try this week, but it's definitely the rest of the summer off," said the 44 year old, whose problems go back to the mid-1990s when he could not play for 18 months and feared his future would be in a wheelchair.

"I feel better, but still have pain in my shoulders. It's just a game of wait and see, but it feels like a slow process - it feels like the finishing line is near, but you never get to it.

"I have no expectations to be honest. I played 18 holes yesterday and when I played the Pro Am today, I know I haven't practised the way it's needed to be competitive.

"Hopefully, hopefully, four days, that will be fantastic; that will be a great achievement to be honest, after being laid off for so long and not being able to practise properly. And just to play decent golf, that will be the goal this week."

The double Masters Tournament champion admits the high quality of the field this week encouraged him to make an appearance.

"The French Open is one of the oldest Opens that we play still on Tour," he said. "And secondly, Bernhard Pascassio, took a risk here, without paying any fees to top players and putting all of the money in the purse, making the tournament stronger.

"I think this year, the field is very strong, and it's more down to the respect that the well, the management decision here, he did a wonderful job. He brought this tournament from being one of the top events. It's one of the strongest tournaments that we have all year long. So, you know, great credit to him."

Olazábal also praised Graeme McDowell after the Northern Irishman's spectacular US Open Championship victory at Pebble Beach Golf Links.

"Regarding the victory of McDowell, it was due to come," he added. "I remember when I was playing on the US Tour, that question came up quite often, why a European didn't manage to win the US Open for so long. And the answer I gave, it was going to be a matter of time, because we do have strong players with the character that is needed to win those events.

"We were close a bunch of times even though we didn't wrap it up, but this time, McDowell did it and did it in great style. He held on very well.

"And European golf nowadays I think is doing very well. Look at the results we are having - players like Lee [Westwood], Martin Kaymer, Justin Rose has managed to win an event in the States, Ian Poulter. There's a bunch of players who are really strong and have a lot of years ahead of them. I think European golf is very strong and very good."

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Pos Player nameNatHolePar
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T2MOLINARI, FrancescoITA18-11
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4MCILROY, RoryNIR18-10
5WILLETT, DannyENG18-8
T6WILSON, OliverENG18-7
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