Golf: Olazabal's disbelief over win
Monday 02 March 1998
"I would have said you were crazy," Olazabal described. "I would have smash you in the face and said: `kid, wake up'."
At the time, Olazabal had a temperature of 102 degrees and was busy ignoring the advice of a doctor to withdraw from the tournament. Yesterday a closing round of 68, four under par in high desert winds, gave the 32-year-old Spaniard a three-stroke victory over the young Australian, Stephen Allan.
"I am shocked at what I have done," Olazabal said. In contrast to his contracting waistline, Ollie found his wallet expanding by pounds 130,000. His last meal of some substance - fish to be precise - was last Wednesday evening.
"I have been surviving on fruit juices, yoghurts, soups and tea," he said. "I never expected to win. The first two days were the worst, every single muscle ached. The last two days it was just the throat but I still felt weak this morning."
It was in the desert a year ago that Olazabal, the 1994 US Masters champion, resumed his career after an 18-month break due to his foot injuries. Then he just wanted to test himself in competition and finished 12th. Two events later he won in the Canaries.
"The win in the Canaries was very special for me, but taking into account my condition and the field this week, this is my best since 1994."
Here the big names were massed behind the third round leader Robert Karlsson - Ernie Els, Ian Woosnam, Greg Norman, Lee Westwood, Colin Montgomerie and Seve Ballesteros all finished in the top 10 - but it was Olazabal whose patience survived the conditions best.
"I never put myself under any pressure," Olazabal said. "It was not until the 13th that I thought I had a chance to win. Before that I was playing my own game. I didn't care about the other guys." What happened at the par-five 13th was that Olazabal holed his sand wedge shot from 77 yards for an eagle two.
Suddenly he found himself in the lead and Karlsson, who closed with a 75 to share third place with Els, was not the biggest danger. Instead, Allan, a 24-year-old from Melbourne, had become the closest challenger by making five birdies between the 11th and the 17th, where he chipped in.
Attempting to make another at the par-five last, Allan tried to cross the water in front of the green with his second shot and took a six. "I figured I needed a birdie at the last to tie," Allan said. "I never really contemplated not going for it." Moments later Olazabal himself birdied the hole to reach a 19-under total of 269 and move second in the money list to Els.
It also completed a satisfying mathematical progression after finishing third in the Heineken Classic and second in the Greg Norman International in his last two competitions.
Latest in Sport
Hector Bellerin: How saying no to Barcelona paid off for Bellerin - and Arsenal
Paul Scholes column: With Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
'I am the president of everybody': What Sepp Blatter said after winning re-election as Fifa president
Fifa bomb threat: Swiss authorities confirm a bomb threat has been made at the Fifa Congress
Michel Platini to consider pulling England and other Uefa members out of the World Cup if Sepp Blatter wins Fifa election
- 2 Maisie Williams has an excellent message for one confused fan
- 4 Tampon tax scrapped in Canada after petition convinces conservative government
- 5 Kate Moss on the naked Calvin Klein shoot and the obsession that ended her relationship
EU referendum: David Cameron's rules are a 'democratic disgrace', says French-born Scottish politician set to be denied a vote
British tourists complain that impoverished boat migrants are making holidays 'awkward' in Kos
A nation of inequality: How the UK is failing to feed its most vulnerable people
Australian man punched in the face for defending Muslim women from abuse on train
David Starkey 'tells Amal Clooney to shut up and stop over-promoting human rights'
EU referendum: David Cameron to deny EU migrants and under-18s the chance to vote
£16500 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the leading Mercedes-Ben...
£27500 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£19500 - £23500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Experienced B2B Telemarketer wa...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This global company are looking for two Showro...