Jose Maria Olazabal produced a brilliant, battling 71 to make the cut for the first time since 2014


On the day that would have been Seve Ballesteros’ 64th birthday his great pal and Ryder Cup partner Jose Maria Olazabal rolled back the years and made the cut at The Masters.

The last time that the 55-year-old played on the weekend was in 2014 but Olazabal produced a brilliant 71 to finish the first two days on two over and inside the mark.

Six months ago Olazabal shot 78-80, in his last four Masters his best effort has been a 74 but, despite giving up 30 yards off the tee to the field, he still beat par.

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“At least when the course is playing fast, I’m not hitting 5-woods and 7-woods all day long to the greens. It’s true that I still hit long irons, and some of the greens for me, it’s very difficult to hit them because of the clubs and hitting onto them,” the Spaniard explained.

“On 14 I had a 5-iron in my hands and I miss the green all the way to the back. I know there’s certain holes that I’m not going to hit greens most probably, but this is Augusta. If you know where to hit it, at least you have a chance to save par. In these conditions, par is not a bad score.”

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For the record he hit nine greens on Thursday and just seven on Friday but he knows a thing or two about getting it up and down round here.

“It reminded me of those years when the greens were really fast and hard. I really felt like that. The weather also was warm, a bit humid. It’s been really special these last two days for me. I haven’t made the cut in for how many years.”

Olazabal was asked earlier in the week what motivated him and was it the remote possibility of contending?

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“No, it’s not that. I don’t think there’s still a chance of winning, obviously but it’s always fantastic to be back here. This is a very special place for anybody that has won here, and that’s what really brings us here. The Champions Dinner on Tuesday, seeing the place again, the flowers, the good weather this year. This is more of the usual Masters. If the weather stays like this, we’re going to see Augusta as good as ever.”

Olazabal first came here as an amateur inn 1985 where his opening round was an 81, two years later he returned as a pro and a few months shy of his Ryder Cup debut at Muirfield Village. From 1989 onwards he won twice in 10 years, just like his great mentor, and he was only once outside the top 15. He’s part of the fabric of the place and the great news is we get to see him for another two days.