Olazabal Returns to Spain

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Jose Maria Olazabal makes a welcomed return to his home country of Spain for the Canarias Open de Espana, the European Tour's 13th event of the season.
 
Despite a somewhat diluted field, Olazabal will have one man in particular standing in the way of winning his host country's national championship.
 
That man is fellow countryman Miguel Angel Jimnez.
 
Prehaps one of the hottest players in the world with two titles already under his belt in the 2004 season, Jimenez also has a little recent history on his side as well.
 
Last fall, in Spain no less, the two compatriots waged battled at the inaugural Turespaa Mallorca Classic. Jimnez captured the tournament by one shot after Olazabal uncharacteristically stumbled on the two final holes, making a double bogey at the 17th and then watched as his par putt on the 18th slid by the hole, thus handing the title to Jimenez.
 
Neither player has won his country's national tournament, although Olazabal had a runner-up finish in 1998. The last Spaniard to win the event was Sergio Garcia back in 2002, while Spain golfing legend Seve Ballesteros captured the title on three seperate oscassions.
 
Olazabal, who started strong at this year's Masters before a disasterous third-round 79 took him out of contention, has not won a title on either the PGA Tour - in which he became a full-time member back in 2001 - or the European Tour since 2002. That year, the 38-year-old Olazabal, who was born next to a golf course, won the PGA Tour's Buick Invitational.
 
First played in 1912, the Canarias Open de Espana became apart of the European Tour in 1971, the official birth of the European Tour. Ballesteros, Garcia and Antonio Garrido (1972) are the only Spaniards to win the title since that inaugural year as part of the tour.
 
The event, which is being played on the fourth different course in as many years, comes to the spectacular Fuerteventura Golf Club on the Canary Islands.
 
Last year Englands Kenneth Ferrie won the title when he birdied the second play-off hole to edge out Swede Peter Hedblom and Peter Lawrie of Ireland. It was Ferrie's first and only European Tour victory.
 
Ferrie will be back to defend his title and will be joined by the winner of last week's Open de Sevilla, Ricardo Gonzalez.
 
The purse for the event is $1,980,000, with $330,000 going to the winner.
 
Related links:
  • TGC Airtimes

  • Full Coverage - The Canarias Open de Espana