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July 20, 2005

Jose Maria Olazabal


RODDY WILLIAMS: Thank you very much joining us in Gut Kaden. Start by telling us all about last week at St. Andrews.

JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL: It was a great week. Actually, it was a wonderful week, would have been a little better if I had hit the ball a little better on Sunday, but overall it was a very nice week and I played solid all week long. It was a wonderful week.

RODDY WILLIAMS: Things didn't quite go your way down the back nine?

JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL: On Sunday I made a couple of mistakes on 6 and 12 and those were costly. I hit bad drives there and ended up with bogeys. I think those two holes were crucial, especially after Tiger birdieing 12, I think those two holes were crucial.

RODDY WILLIAMS: Were you higher then your expectations going into the week?

JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL: Yes, I was struggling with my game starting in Ireland. And at the French I didn't hit the ball that solid or that well, and the week before at Loch Lomond, I finished I think 25th, but, you know, the iron shot was not good. I hit quite a few fairways but not solidly. Before going to The Open, I wasn't really happy with my game, and during the practice rounds, start feeling more comfortable, start hitting better shots and ended up, you know, hitting the ball pretty well.

RODDY WILLIAMS: All of which helps coming into this week obviously.

JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL: Yes, I think any week like last week is always nice for confidence. But it's a different week. It's a different golf course. The weather as you can see, you know, is not cooperating all that much. We have had lovely weather the last two weeks in Scotland, so there are all of those elements that play their part. Having played like I did last week, that is also, you know, very, very good.

Q. You better than most would have the opinion of the state of Tiger Woods� game having played with him for three rounds. Is it because he's so good, or is it because, which is what a lot of people are saying, or because people aren't quite reaching the standard that they can do to try and beat him?

JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL: Well, I think it's a bit of both things. I think, you know, Tiger is a very, very good player, very solid and makes very few mistakes, and whenever he makes mistakes, his short game is always there for the rescue at least. You can see how well he chips and putts usually.

On the other hand, there are those guys at the moment, like Ernie or Vijay, where they are not as fine tuned as they were, let's say, the last year or so. For instance, Vijay I've seen play really well from tee to green and we saw how many putts he missed all week long. Ernie might not be, as I said, might not be hitting the ball as well as he did last year.

There's nothing wrong with those guys. The game of golf comes and goes, but nobody can expect to play well week after week, but I think Tiger makes the most difference. I think he has the whole package, he's very strong physically. He's very fit mentally, very strong, and then he has a wonderful short game. So you have all of the elements there for success.

Q. There was a stat: "Based on eight of the ten opponents Tiger played with as he went on to win his major titles, didn't score as well as he did that day, and seven of those opponents failed to make par; they were over par on those days." Is there does Tiger influence the way his opponents play? Did he do so, and is there an intimidating factor there?

JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL: I cannot tell for the others.

Q. How about yourself?

JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL: For myself, I've always said that I really enjoy playing with Tiger. I enjoyed the first two days and I enjoy the last day. We do have a lot of respect for each other and in that sense, the way he plays is not affecting the way I play. I know I have to play my game. I have to be only concerned about what I have to do. I cannot do anything about what the other guys do.

And, you know, I played with Tiger at Augusta when he won, and he played a solid round. It was wonderful to watch. He shot, I think it was 66 I think it was, 66 or 67, and it was the easiest 66 or 67 that I've seen at Augusta. In my case I can't say he affects the way I play. I made a couple of bad swings exactly the same if I played with somebody else.

Q. So from your point, there's no intimidation factor?

JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL: No. Everybody knows you have to play good golf to have a chance. And it's not -- intimidation is not the word, no. You have to go about your own business, and he has the whole package, he's going to be tough to beat, you know that. But we're trying to improve our games and so every now and then we get success.

Q. How big is the physical element there?

JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL: Not so much in the sense of stamina during the four rounds of golf. It's more down to hitting it long enough, far enough, straight enough so you avoid most of the problems. The rest of us will have to if you hit the ball 300 yards or 310, I don't think you're going to see many bunkers in play, that's an advantage, and with his power he can hit certain irons and get the ball in places that the rest cannot. He can hit a 3 iron, he can hit a 4 iron up in the skies, and that ball, as soon as it hits the ground is going to land like a butterfly. You know, that is, at the end of the day, if you take those little things and add them, even in the period of the whole day and four days of tournament, that's giving him the edge.

Q. You mentioned obviously this is a different week to last week, how much confidence did that give you, and has it changed your ambitions on what you think you can now achieve for the rest of the season?

JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL: No, it has not changed my ambitions. Neither has it changed the goals. But obviously it was a wonderful week in the sense that it was a step forward towards what I want to do with my game, and I think that is very important.

Q. Can you expand on that?

JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL: Meaning that, you know, I was hitting the ball like I wanted to. I was able to shape the ball the way I wanted to. I was playing golf more like I feel I can play golf, you know, making fewer mistakes, and that, if you maintain that through a long period of time, sooner or later, the rest will come, you know, better positions, wins, things like that.

Q. How long is it do you think since you've felt like that, that you've felt that it was really there?

JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL: I have to say the start of the season was really good. I hit the ball really solid for the first seven, eight weeks in the year and that is why the results were there. If you look at those results, I mean, it has been the best start I've had for quite a long time. But then, you know, after I had the break of three weeks, I hurt my back a little bit, and, you know, it was not the same since Ireland up to Loch Lomond, and that's what I have to avoid. That's the idea. You know, that's the goal. The goal is to be more consistent, more times.

Q. Just looking briefly if I could, the Ryder Cup qualification starts in just over a month's time, what are your sort of plans for that and schedule wise?

JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL: I'm not going to change my schedule for that to start with, obviously. We will see how things go. If I need to change, well, I might have to. But the start of the season is going to be certainly the same. I'm not going to change anything about that and I'm going to play I'm not going to play many events in Europe, that is true, but, you know, if I play good enough, if I play like I have this year, that should be okay. So it's more I've always said this. It's all done on how good I play.

Q. Obviously now you're certainly inside the Top 50, I think 40th in the world, so that gets you in all of the big events that count on both sides?

JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL: Yes, I have to, I have to keep on playing the way I did last week and to consolidate my standings in the World Rankings, and that will help the issue, of course. If I manage to be able to play all four major events plus the world events, that will make things easier.

Q. On that point, your form, Jose Maria, getting to within a stroke of Tiger on Sunday and playing the way you did you obviously now must have your feeling reinforced that you can win majors still?

JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL: I've always believed that. I may be wrong, but I do believe that I don't know if I'm going to win majors, more majors but I do believe that if I get my game to where I want to, I will have chances. It's just down to that. Winning or not, you know, it might happen, it might not, but at the end of the day it's the satisfaction you get of definitely at least getting the level of your game higher than it was before.

Q. By the same measure, I would assume then that you would say that Colin Montgomerie by his display last weekend shows that he can still contend at majors, and therefore, possibly still win one?

JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL: Yes, he's 42, if I'm not wrong, I think, 42 years old. Well, obviously the years are running by, but, you know, he plays like he did, he will have a chance. Especially his game, certain majors will suit better than others. That happens to everybody. Places like the U.S. Open, PGA and even the British Open, I think those three will suit better than Augusta because of his ball flight, correct. He's usually a fader of the ball, very straight most of the time and he doesn't hit a very high ball. So, you know, at Augusta, those elements are not very positive.

But in the other three majors, you know, he had a chance. Actually I think he was well, I don't know if the word unlucky is the word, but he has been very close. Riviera, with Ernie Els when they played for the U.S. Open, you know, he has had like four good chances. Some of them, at least he didn't make a mistake. The only thing is the other guy just had a great shot and that was it.

Q. I'm curious to know how you feel in retrospect you look at last Sunday and you say, "Great, I contended." How much of you at the time wanted to go home and kick the cat? How much of you is

JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL: Not at all. The only point I made when I finished with it, I was a little bit, I don't know what the word would be, dissatisfied because I didn't hit the ball like I had the previous days in the sense that, you know, I didn't hit such a bad tee shot before on 6 or on 12. And it was the only two really bad ones. I mean if, you know, if I had hit a couple of decent shots in there, it would have been a different story I think. Not the outcome, I'm not saying about the outcome, but at least you know I would have been closer playing the last few holes. I was really truly, I really enjoyed the week, I had a lot of fun, and I liked the way I hit the ball, so there was nothing wrong with that.

End of FastScripts.

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