Golf: Olazabal's sound start in pursuit of perfection

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The Independent Online

JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL, runner-up in the Freeport-McDermott Claic prior to winning the US Mater in 1994, took advantage of ome friendly early morning condition at Englih Turn to move to five under par with an outward half of 31.

Thi wa a wift reveral of form and fortune for the 32-year-old Spaniard who wa none too happy with hi firt-round 72, level par, on Thurday.

"Terrible," he aid. "There are no other word to explain it. I wa terrible."

While Olazabal brought a new calmer attitude to hi game when he returned after 18 month away with hi foot injurie, hi perfectionit tendencie are undimmed. But while before he would have pat out the word with a venom of elf-digut, thi time it wa jut an honet decription of hi performance.

Since arriving in America for the Player' Championhip the form that took him on a run of third, econd and firt in the Dubai Claic earlier in the year eemed to have evaporated. But it duly returned yeterday a he had birdie on five of the firt ix hole.

A pitch to two feet at the firt wa the perfect tart and Olazabal followed up by chipping to a foot at the par-five econd. After a par at the third, putt of ix, 20 and 20 feet brought three more birdie at the next three hole.

With the overnight leader, Glen Day, who had yet to begin hi econd round, at eight under, a fat tart wa exactly what wa needed.

Ian Woonam, who went one better than Olazabal at Englih Turn in 1991, went out in level par but picked up two birdie after the turn to move to four under.

After playing only 12 hole lat week before withdrawing with a back injury, Woonam hould complete hi goal of playing four round before the Mater.

A double-bogey ix at hi fifth hole wa a etback for Richard Coughlan, the 23-year-old Irihman in hi rookie eaon on the US Tour. Coughlan wa four under before dropping a couple of hot late in hi firt round, but ha made four cut in hi ix tournament to date.

"Playing thee coure for the firt time mean I am probably a hot a round behind everyone ele, and two hot behind the really good player," Coughlan aid.

At even over going into the back nine, Chip Beck, a former Ryder Cup player and winner here in 1992, wa heading for hi 33rd conecutive mied cut, a run with which he would tie Ian Baker-Finch' record for the US Tour.