home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


April 13, 2005

Jose Maria Olazabal


PHIL STAMBAUGH: Okay, Jose, thanks for joining us in the interview room today for the 2005 MCI Heritage Classic. You come in this week on a sponsor exemption, first time here in this tournament, and you've come off some really nice performances in three of the last four weeks. A couple thoughts about playing Harbour Town for the first time and your game coming into this week.

JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL: Obviously I'm really pleased to be here. I played the golf course yesterday, and it's different. It's a golf course where you have to really position the ball. You have to really hit it straight off the tee, have to be very sharp with your irons into the greens because the greens are really tiny and small.

The par 3s are soft. Three of them have water that comes into play. It's a great golf course, a great track. My game obviously last week was a tough week. I've been striking the ball pretty well up until last week. I didn't hit the ball last week but the putter I think was the worst part last week.

Hopefully I'll be able to hit good shots again this week and score well. We'll see.

PHIL STAMBAUGH: Had you heard much about Harbour Town from the other players maybe in Europe that played here and won, Bernhard Langer?

JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL: Not from the European players, also from the American players. When I played here, everybody was asking me if I was playing this week, and usually I go home after The Masters, and they were really surprised that I didn't spend the time, an extra week just to come here and play because it was so nice and so beautiful.

I watch it on TV obviously, watch the tournament pretty much the last four or five years on TV, and it's a nice place, beautiful place.

PHIL STAMBAUGH: We'll open it up to questions. Just raise your hand.

Q. As important as the sponsor's exemptions are to your exempt status this season, can you tell us how the exemption here came about since you hadn't played here before? I assume you didn't really have a relationship with the people in the tournament office and things of that nature.

JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL: When I looked at the schedule, I knew I was going to play TPC, so I asked my manager to see if there was a possibility of me getting an invitation here. I have to say that we didn't have to wait much to get an invitation. We asked the sponsors for that this year.

Q. How difficult was it to put aside the putts in Atlanta and to get into the right frame of mind for Augusta last week?

JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL: That part was not difficult. I have to say when you're playing The Masters, you're playing The Masters. You can take everything else out when you're playing that week. That was not the toughest part. I think the toughest part maybe was to get there on Monday night really late and not having the usual time that I get before the tournament starts. Maybe that was the toughest part.

And then obviously having to cope with the delays, that didn't help, either.

But actually to take it out of my mind, that was not the problem.

Q. Did you watch the end of the Masters?

JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL: Yes, I did, from the beginning to the very end.

Q. I'm thinking of the 16th and what Tiger did there.


Q. Now, you've played with a lot of great players and you could be considered in that category yourself as a double Masters winner. This is just a notion. The idea that great players seem to be able to make things happen when they need to, I mean, the chip-in, and it's happened before and various players have done it, you played with Seve and he did that type of thing. Do you subscribe to the notion that they can make things happen as Tiger did?

JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL: Well, I agree with that part. Sometimes that's what happens in a sense maybe between the great player and a good player. You know, having the ability to make those things happen at the right time. In order to do that obviously you need a lot of things to go your way. There is always a little bit of luck involved, but you still have to execute the proper shot.

In order to do so, you have to cope with the pressure, with the tension of the moment. We all know that Tiger mentally is very strong, so are some other players. Maybe he is a little bit stronger than the rest in that sense.

You know, it's what you said. Tom Watson did it, Jack did it, Seve did it. When I won in 1990 -- Davis Love did it from pretty much the same area down there. That's golf (laughter).

Q. When you're putting sours for a couple weeks at a time, have you ever considered dabbling or even attempted to play with some of these long putters or belly putters?

JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL: Not yet. I will never say never (laughter), but I'm still stuck to the old-fashioned way.

Q. And the regular grip, you've never attempted the backhanded grip or anything?

JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL: I've never tried it.

Q. Having played a practice round at Harbour Town, what are your expectations this week?

JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL: Well, I think the best thing for me is not to have any expectations at all, just play the game and try to have fun. As I said, it's a golf course that demands a lot of accuracy off the tee, onto the greens. You need to be playing really well in order to score well around here, otherwise you're going to have to -- you're going to find yourself in a situation where you're going to have to hit those rare shots that we don't hit very often.

Q. Looking at your record, obviously several top hits. How close are you to being where you want to be with your game right now?

JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL: I'm getting closer. I was hitting the ball well in Atlanta. I don't know what happened last week. But I feel that I have improved somehow in my overall game, striking the ball mainly. But you have to follow that with decent putting to score. But I'm getting closer and closer. I cannot tell you exactly where I am, but as far as I keep on seeing improvement, that's a good sign.

Q. When you said you watched The Masters from being there, what was your reaction at first when Tiger made that chip on 16, and then do you think that Tiger is in that same frame of mind as a few years ago when he was winning several majors, or is the PGA TOUR so deep, is the field so deep that perhaps nobody will have that kind of stretch that he had?

JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL: Well, it's going to be difficult for him to have that kind of stretch. I think he raised the level. He raised the bar. A bunch of players just have done that, too.

I mean, I think the gap is smaller than it was when he had that wonderful stretch.

His frame of mind I think is very good. It has always been good with Tiger.

The game, I mean, he hit a lot of great shots down the stretch. He missed a few, but he managed to overcome the situation, and that's what champions do.

But I think the gap is not as big as it was when he had that wonderful stretch.

Q. What did you think of that shot, the chip on 16?

JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL: It was wonderful. I mean, again, you have to execute the shot. He did a wonderful chip, he checked the ball. It was not easy from that situation. Everybody saw the chip. The ball could have went in, could have stayed a couple of inches from the hole and it would have been the same shot.

You know, there's always that degree of luck involved. That's maybe the difference. When great players hit those shots, maybe they manage to find that bit of luck.

Q. Would you have played the shot the same way as Tiger? Presumably there were a few different ways to have --

JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL: I don't think there was many ways to hit that shot. It was either that one or just try to flop it up in the air, but that flop shot would have been very difficult because his ball was very close to the secondary cut. I think that was pretty much the shot he had to hit.

Q. Given that you obviously have some work to do with regard to your exempt status for next season, you've had to rebuild your career before. Do you draw off that experience in the late '90s? Do you have maybe somewhat of a roadmap to get yourself back --

JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL: I don't think you have a roadmap. You just have to be your best, and whenever you have your chance to play golf -- that's the only thing that counts. The game, if you play well enough, you can take care of all the things, but you cannot really say I have to do this and I have to do that. Just play good golf and see what happens. As I said, it should take care of itself.

Q. Mentally does it help knowing what you got through in the past?

JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL: I agree. I agree on that part, yeah. Obviously when you're going through a situation where you couldn't play golf two years and barely could walk, it makes you put things in perspective without question. Also, once you overcome a situation like that, it makes it a little bit tougher, and you always have the confidence that you will overcome other things.

PHIL STAMBAUGH: Thanks for joining us this morning.

JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL: Thank you very much.

End of FastScripts.

About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297