Jose Maria Olazabal shows Tiger Woods that Masters miracles are possible

Tiger Woods arrives at the practice area prior to the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club. Picture: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images.

On that, the Spaniard can relate to the situation facing Tiger Woods as the five-time winner mulls over whether or not he will play in the event’s 86th edition, which starts at the Georgia venue on Thursday.

Woods, who feared his right leg would be amputated after suffering serious injuries in a single-car crash in Los Angeles 13 months ago, will make a “game-time decision” about teeing up in the season’s opening men’s major.

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The 15-time major winner played nine holes after arriving in Augusta on Sunday afternoon and will gauge how he handles the undulating nature of the course over the next few days before making his call.

“I didn’t think about expecting him to be here or not,” Olazabal, a winning Ryder Cup captain in 2012, told The Scotsman. “At the end of the day, he has to go through a recovery process. We will see how fully he recovers.

“I saw him as he was walking towards the 10th tee and I have to say I was really pleased for him and it’s going to be great for the game of golf if he comes back.

“He’s a great asset, he’s a unique player, he has overcome tough situations and hopefully he will do so this time.”

Olazabal claimed his first Green Jacket in 1994, but later that same year he was struck down by the ailment that seemed likely to cripple him.

The pain gradually became intolerable and, in 1996, he took a break from the game that lasted for 18 months before returning to win again at Augusta National.

“In a way I know what he’s been going through,” he added. “When you cannot walk, when you cannot do things and you’re full of pain everywhere.

“I relate to him in a way and that’s why I really appreciate him being here, but not just for us and the crowds, but for him. I would love to see him be able to competitive again and play great golf.”

Woods has already pulled off one sensational success here, having returned to winning ways in the majors in 2019, but he faces a massive mental and physical challenge this week.

“A very strong mindset, a special one. No questions about that,” said Olazabal of what it takes to overcome the situations they both found themselves in.

As for the walk he faces, he added: “I don’t think there are many golf courses as challenging as this one when we’re talking about changes of elevation, walking.

“There are a lot of ups and downs and it’s a real test. If he’s able to accomplish that this week that would be the best sign.”

Olazabal made his first cut in the event since 2014 last year, but the 56-year-old is not feeling confident about repeating that feat.

“I had to withdraw from Newport Beach (a venue on the Champions Tour) because I had a bad elbow and I haven’t been able to practice all that much so the game is a little bit off at the moment. I will suffer on the golf course, but I have wonderful memories,” he said.

“It’s getting too long, I played yesterday and I’m hitting a lot of woods on to par-4s and that makes thing not very easy. It doesn’t matter how good of a short game you have, the golf course for us players that don’t hit the ball that long it’s a real tough test.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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