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José María Olazábal enjoys 'wonderful present' on Masters anniversary

José María Olazábal enjoys 'wonderful present' on Masters anniversary

José María Olazábal was proud to be able to roll back the years as he celebrated the 30th anniversary of his first Masters Tournament victory at Augusta National Golf Club.

José María Olazábal

The Spaniard finished two shots ahead of Tom Lehman to win the Green Jacket in 1994 and five years later another two-shot victory - this time over Davis Love III - handed him his second Major triumph.

Now 58, he came into this week having made the cut here three times since 2010 - with injuries playing their part in his form - but on Friday he recovered from finding the water at the 12th with a brilliant tee-shot to seven feet at the 16th to get to six over.

At that point he was heading home but the windy conditions saw the cut line move and when play was completed, he was one of the 60 players set for four rounds.

"It's an honour and a privilege," he said. "I've always said this, every time I get through that gate, I feel in peace with myself and it's a great feeling to have.

José María Olazábal

"I enjoyed every bit of it. It was a wonderful present to be able to play the weekend. I think it's the second time in ten years or whatever. 

"I wasn't expecting that, to be honest, tackling the week. I wasn't expecting to play good golf like I did this week.

"Even on Friday, I thought I was going to be short by one. Luckily, because of the weather conditions, some players fell back and I was able to play on the weekend. Obviously a great feeling to be here on the weekend 30 years after my victory.

"As I said, I've enjoyed every bit of it this week. I'm proud of myself, the way I played and the way I handled the situation.

"On Friday... I think that day was the best golf I've played for, I don't know, six, seven, eight years. Really, it was tough conditions and I executed a lot of shots well. I kept my composure under those circumstances really well. I played really well this week."

Olazábal's caddie this week was Lorenzo Gagli, a winner on the European Challenge Tour with 235 DP World Tour appearances to his name.

The Italian is waiting to get his 2024 Challenge Tour campaign under way and Olazábal has enjoyed having a fellow professional player on the bag.

"We were playing a charity pro-am in Greece and actually he told me he would love to caddie for me for a few weeks because he's playing the Challenge Tour but he doesn't have a good category for it," said Olazábal.

Lorenzo Gagli and José María Olazábal

"So he knew he wouldn't be able to play until May and I said to him, 'well, listen, I'm going to play four tournaments before that. If you're happy to do so, let's do it'.

"On top of it, he wanted to be here at Augusta. He's never been here at Augusta. Well I think he got a good taste of what Augusta is about.

"I think he saved me a couple of shots. He knows golf. He is a professional. He played on the DP World Tour for ten years or so.

"He knows what the shot demands and that's a huge help."

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