Jose Maria Olazabal (Getty Images)
Ryder Cup Captain José María Olazábal expects plenty of final-hole drama at this week’s Reale Seguros Open de España.
The two-time Major winner designed the Real Club de Golf de Sevilla course, and believes the 432 yard par four 18th could be set to ask a strong field plenty of questions.
“I think the 18th is a great finishing hole,” said Olazábal. “I am very pleased with it.
“We have some other very tough holes like 15, a solid par four. It’s very challenging from the tee, with a medium-to-long second shot, which can be very long into the wind.
“The second is really tough and the sixth is a beautiful hole, but both come too early in the round. The finishing stretch is really difficult, except 16 where you can relax a little bit, but 15, 17 and 18 can be fearful with the wind.
“This year the 17th green is much more receptive, which will make it much easier. All in all, I expect the scores to be lower than other years because of the soft greens.”
Olazábal expects his compatriot and former Ryder Cup teammate Miguel Angel Jiménez to be amongst those challenging for the trophy on Sunday, in a field that also includes Major winners Rich Beem, Michael Campbell, Paul Lawrie and Shaun Micheel, Ryder Cup stars Ross Fisher, Edoardo Molinari and his younger brother Francesco and former Ryder Cup Captain Colin Montgomerie.
“All the par fives are reachable, but the winner of this tournament will have to hit many fairways,” he added. “Consistent players like Jiménez or Luke Donald who hit many fairways and many greens are always favourites on this type of course.
“Long hitters are going to struggle this week if they don’t keep it straight.
“I didn’t realize I was building such a difficult course. The course is in good shape but soft after two weeks of heavy rain, so conditions will be easier on the greens.
“The rough is extremely penal, therefore it will be vital to keep it on the fairway. Yesterday they cut an intermediate rough, which is playable, but from the deep rough you will probably have to play sideways. The rough is the only way to protect the course, particularly with today’s long hitters.”
Olazábal also paid tribute to The European Tour, which is 40 years old and had the Open de España as its first event back in 1972.
“As for the 40th anniversary of the European Tour, I wish to thank those pioneers who took the tough decision of splitting from the British Tour and create The European Tour,” he added.
“Thanks to them we are where we are, we travel around the world, we have great tournaments, and that’s something that should make us proud and grateful.”