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Olazabal to Defend His Omega Open Title

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HONG KONG -- A strong field and a lack of confidence have Jose Maria Olazabal thinking he'll have a tough time defending his Omega Open title.
 
'My game's not as sharp as last year, mainly because of my putting,'' the 36-year-old Spaniard said Tuesday. 'It's a different year and a different feeling, but I will try to win again.''
 
Olazabal, a two-time Masters champion, has struggled for success since beating Norway's Henrik Bjornstad by one stroke to win the Hong Kong tournament last year.
 
Nick Faldo is hopeful the tournament, which starts Thursday, can help him rediscover the form that made him the world's top player in the early 1990s.
 
'I am a seasoned campaigner now,'' Faldo said. 'But I hope I can spring a big surprise this weekend.''
 
Faldo won the inaugural Johnnie Walker Classic in Hong Kong in 1990, the same year he won the Masters and British Open titles.
 
'I was right at the peak of my powers then,'' Faldo said. 'I won two majors that year and it doesn't get much better than that.
 
Nowadays, my body is older and my knees ache and my elbow aches.''
 
For the second year, the $700,000 tournament is jointly sanctioned by the Asian PGA-run Davidoff Tour and the European Tour.
 
Among those competing in this year's tournament are four Danes who have won in Europe this year, including European Ryder Cup star Thomas Bjorn, Steen Tinning, Anders Hansen and Soren Hansen. Bjorn, who is playing in Hong Kong for the first time, is a seven-time winner on the European Tour.
 
Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee, last year's Asian PGA Order of Merit Winner, is another strong contender. He finished second to Scotland's Colin Montgomerie at the TCL Classic in China two weeks ago.
 
China's top player Zhang Lianwei, who beat Zimbabwe's Nick Price at the Macau Open last month, and India's Arjun Atwal are also strong contenders.

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