AUGUSTA, Ga. – Jose-Maria Olazabal hadn’t made the cut at the Masters since 2014. He hadn’t played in a golf tournament since the Masters in November. In other words, the 55-year-old former two-time green jacket winner had no chance of even making the cut, right?
Not so fast. Olazabal did what defending champion and World No. 1 Dustin Johnson couldn’t do. He shot 1-under par on Friday to make the cut.
How good did that feel to Olazabal?
“It’s like winning the event,” he said with a laugh.
Olazabal wore navy blue and white, the colors of his childhood idol, friend and former Ryder Cup partner Seve Ballesteros, who died nearly 10 years ago, on the date of what would have been Seve’s 64th birthday. Together they formed the most successful Ryder Cup partnership in the history of the competition.
“I think Seve would be happy. I miss not having him here for a big hug. I’m a little emotional,” Olazabal said. “I have to say wholeheartedly that making the cut has been a primary goal in recent years. When you see the years going by and you don’t get it, it gets tough.”
It had been long enough that Olazabal couldn’t remember how long, but he knew it had been a while. The Masters champion in 1994 and 1999 has missed the cut in nine of the last 11 years. Physical ailments took away Olazabal’s brilliance – he was unable to play in 2016 – but he felt “good” and “relaxed” and a fast and firm Augusta National for his 32nd start this week gave him a fighting chance.
“When the golf course is playing fast, I’m not hitting 5 woods and 7 woods all day long to the greens,” said Olazabal, whose longest drive on Friday was 271 yards.
He posted 3-over 75 on Thursday and looked headed for another weekend off when he made bogeys at Nos. 3 and 4 to fall to 5 over. But three birdies in a four-hole stretch beginning at No. 8 got him back to the cut line. A birdie at 15, where he wedged to 5 feet, gave him a cushion and his first weekend tee time at Augusta National since 2014.
“I know that making the cut is not such an extraordinary thing, but I want to dedicate this accomplishment to him and all those people who have left us over the last year,” Olazabal said, noting among others his longtime manager Sergio Gomez, who had been coming with him to Augusta since 1985.
original article link https://golfweek.usatoday.com/2021/04/09/masters-jose-maria-olazabal-dedicates-making-cut-seve-ballesteros/