In His Own Words - Jose Maria Olazabal 1999 Masters Part 1

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 16, 2001, 5:00 pm
SCOTT VAN PELT
IN 1994, A 28 YEAR OLD SPANIARD NAMED JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL WON THE MASTERS. 2 YEARS LATER, HE WAS LIVING IN SECLUSION AT HIS PARENTS HOME IN SPAIN,

ARTHRITIS IN HIS FEET SO DEBILITATING HE WASN'T WONDERING IF HE WOULD PLAY GOLF AGAIN, HE WAS WONDERING IF HE WOULD EVER WALK AGAIN.
 
IN 1999, JOSE STROLLED THE EMERALD FAIRWAYS OF AUGUSTA NATIONAL AND FOUND THE WINNER'S CIRCLE ONCE AGAIN, A VICTORY THAT MEANT SO MUCH FOR SO MANY REASONS.
 
OBVIOUSLY BETWEEN '94 AND '99 YOU WENT THROUGH A GREAT DEAL. AND HAVING DEALT WITH THAT ADVERSITY AS YOU HAVE, WAS WINNING IN '99 ALMOST A DREAM YOU WOULDN'T HAVE ALLOWED YOURSELF DURING THE - THE HARDSHIPS THAT YOU HAD?

JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL
YES, OBVIOUSLY WHEN UH, WHEN I WAS AT MY LOWEST, I NEVER THOUGHT I WOULD BE UH ABLE TO PLAY GOLF AGAIN. UM, I WOULD - I THOUGHT I WOULD NEVER HAVE A CHANCE TO UH, TO WIN, TO HAVE A CHANCE EVEN PLAY A MAJOR EVENT.
 
SO UH, IT WAS VERY SPECIAL COMPARED TO '94. AND THE VICTORY IN '99 WAS UH, UM, UH VERY EMOTIONAL. I MEAN UH, IT WAS A ... UH, WHEN I WON IN '94, I - I DON'T THINK I DID HAVE THE KNOWLEDGE TO REALLY UH,
 
ENJOY THE VICTORY. UH, AND IN '99, I REALLY DID ENJOY MY - THE VICTORY UH, A LOT. UH, I ... I EVEN - DURING - DURING THE SEASON UH, I EVEN REALLY UH, THOUGHT ABOUT THE VICTORY, THOUGHT ABOUT THE ROUND - THE LAST ROUND.
 
UH, AND UH, I ENJOYED IT, UH, EVERY BIT OF IT.
 
SCOTT VAN PELT
DID YOU EVEN ALLOW YOURSELF TO WATCH THE MASTERS WHEN YOU WERE AT HOME IN - UH, DURING THAT TIME IN '95 OR '96? OR WAS IT TOO DEPRESSING TO WATCH THAT, KNOWING THAT AT THE TIME, YOU COULDN'T BE THERE?
 
JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL
UH, IT WAS VERY DEPRESSING. I MEAN, IT'S UH ... I WAS ABLE TO FOLLOW THE TOURNAMENTS ON TV. UH, I WATCHED UH MOST OF THE TOURNAMENTS UH THAT - THAT WERE PLAYED UH, IN THE U.S. UH, AND ALSO IN EUROPE.
 
AND UH, IT WAS HARD. I DIDN'T WANT TO, UH, PUT THAT TAPE ON AND - AND LOOK AT IT. UH, IT WAS UH, IT WOULD HAVE BEEN UH, MAYBE TOO MUCH TO UH, TO HANDLE, NO?

UM, BUT I'M JUST GLAD EVERYTHING WAS OVER.
 
SCOTT VAN PELT
SURE. IT SEEMS LIKE AUGUSTA NATIONAL'S THE KIND OF PLACE THAT WAS BUILT FOR YOU. IT - IT ALLOWS YOU ...
 
(JOSE LAUGHS)
 
IT ALLOWS YOU TO BE A LITTLE BIT WAYWARD OFF THE TEE. AND IT REWARDS THOSE THAT CAN GET UP AND DOWN, AS YOU CAN. DO YOU FEEL THAT WAY, THAT AUGUSTA NATIONAL IS YOUR PERFECT COURSE?
 
JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL
YES, IT'S TRUE THAT THE FAIRWAYS AT AUGUSTA, YOU KNOW, BEING UH, MUCH WIDER THAN THE AVERAGE UM ... UH, IT SUITS MY - MY GAME. OBVIOUSLY AROUND THE GREENS TOO UH, YOU - YOU CAN USE ALL KINDS OF SHOTS AROUND THE GREEN.
 
YOU CAN USE A UH, A LOFTED CLUB. YOU CAN USE A CHIP AND RUN. UH, UM, IN THAT SENSE UH, YOU KNOW UM, I FEEL REALLY VERY COMFORTABLE PLAYING ON THAT GOLF COURSE.
 
SCOTT VAN PELT
THE GREENS, YOU DIDN'T 3-PUTT FOR THE WEEK, WHICH IS - IS AN AMAZING ACCOMPLISHMENT IN AND OF ITSELF. UH, SO MANY PEOPLE STRUGGLE THERE. YOU SEEM TO BE ABSOLUTELY AT HOME ON THOSE GREENS.
 
JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL
WHEN YOU GET UH, TO PLAY THE MASTERS, YOU REALIZE THAT UH .... UH, THE SHORT GAME IS VERY IMPORTANT. AND IF YOU MANAGE NOT 3-PUTT UH DURING THE TOURNAMENT, I THINK YOU'RE DOING UH QUITE WELL.
 
SCOTT VAN PELT
FRIDAY AFTERNOON, YOU'RE COMING DOWN THE BACK-9 AND ALL OF A SUDDEN YOU MAKE A BIRDIE ON THE 13TH AND YOU HAVE THE LEAD AT AUGUSTA NATIONAL.
 
HOW - HOW DO YOU TRANSFORM YOURSELF AND YOUR GAME IN A WEEK'S SPAN
FROM MISSING A CUT TO - TO BEING IN THE LEAD AT THE MASTERS?
 
JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL
IT'S VERY HARD TO EXPLAIN THAT. BUT IT IS TRUE THAT UH, BEFORE THE MASTERS UH, I WAS STRUGGLING WITH MY GAME UH, I WAS - ESPECIALLY OFF THE TEE.
 
UH, I WAS UH, QUITE HAPPY WITH UH, WITH THE IRON PLAY AND MY SHORT GAME. BUT UH, I - I PUT MYSELF IN A - IN A LOT OF UH, UH TROUBLE OFF THE TEE, UH THE WEEKS PRIOR TO THE - THE MASTERS.
 
AND I WAS NOT CONFIDENT AT ALL WITH THAT. UM ...
 
HOW DO YOU CHANGE THAT? (CHUCKLE)
 
UM, OBVIOUSLY I HAD UH ... YOU ALL KNOW THAT I HAD A LITTLE CHAT WITH UH, WITH GARY. UH, I THINK THAT HELPED A LOT. UH, BUT ON THURSDAY, WHEN - WHEN I TEED OFF, I WAS REALLY RELAXED.
 
I SAID, 'WELL, I'VE GOT NOTHING TO LOSE. UH, LET'S - LET'S TRY TO PLAY GOLF.' I DIDN'T PLAY ALL THAT GREAT, BUT I MANAGED TO - TO SCORE WELL, WHICH IS SOMETHING UH YOU'RE LOOKING FORWARD TO, ESPECIALLY BEING THE FIRST ROUND AT THE MASTERS.
 
SCOTT VAN PELT
WE'VE - WE'VE HEARD SO MUCH ABOUT THAT GARY PLAYER CONVERSATION. HE'S SUCH A UNIQUE FIGURE. DID - I MEAN, DID HE REALLY TRULY JUST GET IN YOUR FACE AND TELL YOU 'YOU CAN PLAY' AND - AND ...
 
JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL
YES.
 
SCOTT VAN PELT
AND TELL YOU, 'YOU NEED TO BE MORE CONFIDENT', JUST - JUST AS MATTER OF FACT AS THAT?
 
JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL
YES, IT WAS ... YEAH, IT'S AS SIMPLE AS THAT. IT WAS JUST LIKE THAT. YOU KNOW, WE - WE WERE JUST UH ... UM ... YOU KNOW, BEFORE, I THINK IT WAS JUST BEFORE UH ...
 
UM ... UH, SITTING ON THE TABLE AND UH ... AND HE CAME TO ME, STRAIGHT TO ME, AND HE SAID UH, 'DO YOU HAVE 5 MINUTES? UH, I WOULD LIKE TO TALK TO YOU.' 'OBVIOUSLY, YEAH SURE, RIGHT NOW, UH GARY'
 
SCOTT VAN PELT
RIGHT.
 
JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL
AND HE TOOK ME TO THE LOCKER ROOM AND ... AND UH, VIRTUALLY THAT'S WHAT HE SAID. I MEAN, 'YOU HAVE TO BELIEVE MORE IN YOURSELF. YOU - YOUR SWING IS GOOD ENOUGH TO - TO HIT THE BALL WELL. IT'S JUST A MATTER OF JUST BELIEVING ON - ON IT.'
 
AND UH ... UM, THE VERY EXPERIENCED PLAYERS UH, THEY KNOW WHAT THEY'RE TALKING ABOUT. UH, AND YOU BETTER LISTEN BECAUSE MOST OF THE TIME THEY'RE RIGHT.
 
SCOTT VAN PELT
YOU KNOW, THIS IS - THAT - EXACTLY. IT'S FUNNY, THE OLDER WE GET, THE MORE WE REALIZE THAT OUR ELDERS KNOW EXACTLY WHAT THEY'RE TALKING ABOUT. ISN'T THAT TRUE?
 
JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL
OH YEAH, SURE, SURE, YEAH.
 
(BREAK)
 
SCOTT VAN PELT
UH, YOU PLAYED SO WONDERFULLY ON FRIDAY. YOU SHOOT 66 AND BASICALLY YOU - YOU PUTTED AS - AS WELL AS I GUESS YOU COULD HAVE.
 
JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL
YES (CHUCKLE)
 
SCOTT VAN PELT
SATURDAY, WHICH YOU MENTIONED WAS A DAY YOU KNEW YOU NEEDED TO HAVE A GOOD ROUND, AND SUDDENLY YOUR PUTTER WASN'T QUITE AS GOOD AS IT HAD BEEN.
 
JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL
CORRECT ... YEAH.
 
SCOTT VAN PELT
YOU - YOU BOGEY A FEW EARLY. AND NOW THE LEAD WHICH YOU HAD, IS - IS GONE. UH, ANY CONCERNS AT ALL EARLY IN THE ROUND ON - ON SATURDAY OR DID YOU STILL FEEL LIKE THERE WAS STILL PLENTY OF GOLF TO PLAY - BE PLAYED?
 
JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL
I WAS NOT CONCERNED ABOUT SATURDAY. I WAS UM ... IN A WAY, I WAS REALLY A LITTLE - MAYBE A LITTLE BIT CAUTIOUS UH, ABOUT MY ROUND, ABOUT THE ROUND I HAD TO PLAY.
 
I WAS NOT SO MUCH WORRIED ABOUT WHAT OTHERS PLAYERS COULD DO. UH, I KNEW THAT IF I PLAYED UH, WELL ENOUGH, I MANAGED TO UH, TO GET A - A GOOD ROUND OF GOLF, UH, I WOULD BE, YOU KNOW, IN CONTENTION TO - TO WIN THE TOURNAMENT ON SUNDAY.
 
SCOTT VAN PELT
ONE LAST THOUGHT ON THE ROUND ON - ON ... ON UH SATURDAY, ON THE 18TH TEE, YOU HIT UH, YOU HIT A DRIVE THAT WAS ...
 
(JOSE LAUGHS)
 
YOU PROBABLY RATHER WE DON'T GO OVER THIS, BUT IT WAS FUNNY THE MICROPHONE PICKED UP, YOU SAID 'THAT'S - THAT'S AN UGLY ONE.'
 
JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL
YEAH.
 
SCOTT VAN PELT
AND IT WASN'T YOUR BEST. HOWEVER, UH ... THE APPROACH TOOK ...
 
JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL
IT WAS NOT MY WORST MAYBE (BOTH LAUGH) ...
 
SCOTT VAN PELT
01:07:00
WELL - WELL, AT LEAST YOU WERE ABLE TO FIND IT AND - AND THAT - FROM - FROM ... FROM THE UGLY ONE, YOU THEN HIT A BEAUTIFUL ONE AND VERY NEARLY AGAIN MADE A -
 
JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL
CORRECT.
 
SCOTT VAN PELT
MADE A BIRDIE, STILL A PAR, 73, STILL IN THE LEAD.
 
JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL
YES UH ... UH, YOU DON'T WANT TO LOSE GROUND. THAT'S FOR SURE. UM, AND EVEN THOUGH I DIDN'T PLAY ALL THAT UH ... WELL, DIDN'T SCORE ALL THAT WELL, I DIDN'T FEEL THAT I - I STROKED THE BALL UH, BADLY AT ALL.
 
SO UM ... UH, AFTER THE ROUND WAS - WAS DONE, I - WHAT I SAID TO MYSELF 'WELL, IF - IF I MANAGED TO PLAY UH ... TO SHOOT 73 TODAY UH, WITHOUT MAKING MANY PUTTS AT ALL, UH THAT'S - THAT'S A GOOD SIGN.'
 
SCOTT VAN PELT
I'M - I'M CURIOUS WHEN YOU FINISHED ON SATURDAY, WHEN YOU BECAME AWARE OF WHO YOU'D BE PLAYING WITH ON SUNDAY. DID YOU KNOW IMMEDIATELY OR DID YOU FIND OUT LATER?
 
JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL
NO ... NO, NOT IMMEDIATELY. UM, I WAS JUST CONCENTRATING ON MY GAME UH, ESPECIALLY ON 18 AFTER THAT TEE SHOT. AND UH, UM ... UH, BUT WHENEVER I REALIZED I ... I WAS PLAYING WITH GREG, I REALLY FELT GOOD ABOUT IT.
 
UH, I DON'T KNOW WHY. UH, BUT I - I REALLY FELT GOOD ABOUT IT. AND I THINK IT SHOWED ON - ON SUNDAY.
 
SCOTT VAN PELT
DID THAT MAKE IT AT ALL DIFFICULT, BECAUSE YOU'RE A COMPASSIONATE MAN, TO - TO WANT TO WIN BUT REALIZE THAT WINNING WAS GOING TO COME AT THE EXPENSE OF THIS MAN WHO HAD BEEN DENIED SO CRUELLY AT AUGUSTA?
 
JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL
UH, I NEVER THOUGHT ABOUT ... ABOUT IT THAT WAY UH, UNTIL UH I REACHED 18. YOU KNOW, I KNEW IT WAS - I WAS GONNA FACE ONE OF THE TOUGHEST OPPONENTS UH YOU CAN FACE UH, IN THIS SPORT, IN THIS GAME.
 
AND UH, I KNEW I WILL HAVE TO UM, PLAY UH, GREAT GOLF UH TO HAVE A CHANCE TO BEAT HIM. UH, IN THAT SENSE UH, UM ...
 
I NEVER FELT THAT WAY UM, BEFORE UH THE ROUND OR DURING THE ROUND UNTIL THE VERY LAST HOLE.
 
SCOTT VAN PELT
WELL SUNDAY, YOU TALKED ABOUT IT YOURSELF, THE FRONT-9 IS EXACTLY WHERE JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL THRIVES. AND EARLY ON, WE BOGEYED 3, 4 ...
 
AND 5.
 
JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL
4, YEAH, AND 5, 3 IN A ROW, YEAH.
 
SCOTT VAN PELT
DID YOU TELL YOUR CADDIE AT THAT POINT 'WE'RE THROWING THIS AWAY'?
 
JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL
YES, I SAID UH, WHEN - WHEN I WAS WALKING, AFTER UH I BOGEYED NUMBER 5 UH, AND WE WERE WALKING TO - TOWARDS THE 6TH TEE, I SAID TO BRENNAN, I SAID, 'WELL UM, WE'RE - WE'RE THROWING THIS TOURNAMENT AWAY. WE BETTER START UH PLAYING GOOD GOLF.'
 
AND I THINK THAT UH, THAT BIRDIE ON NUMBER 6, IT WAS ... UH, IT WAS VERY IMPORTANT. UH, THERE - THERE WERE UH VERY IMPORTANT SHOTS DURING THE ROUND UH,
 
OBVIOUSLY. BUT UH, I THINK THAT BIRDIE ON - ON 6 UH, HELPED ME A LOT.
 
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Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

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Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.


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