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February 22, 2002

Jose Maria Olazabal


SCOTT CROCKETT: Jose Maria, well played again. If you could give us your impressions of the day and the win in the end.

JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL: It was a very close match in the end. We got up to the 18th and I was pretty much ahead of the match all day long until 14, where he birdied the hole and we went back to even. But then he made a mistake on 15. We had a birdie chances on 16, we both missed and then he had a good chance on 17. He just hit a great putt, but the ball didn't go in.

18, I managed to birdie a hole after a bad tee shot and, well, I mean that was pretty much lucky after that tee shot because I managed to find a pretty good lie. I hit a good second shot into the green.

SCOTT CROCKETT: Starting to enjoy it more.

JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL: It's pretty much the same. There's a lot of tension, a lot of pressure, especially playing the last few holes. You know, if the match goes like it went today, you know, I don't think that's much fun. Even Paul was here, I don't think he enjoyed it very much until it was over.

SCOTT CROCKETT: That pressure is going to crank up a bit on the weekend.

JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL: Sure. All of the matches are going to be tough. Everybody is playing pretty well. That's what we'll have to do. We'll have to play good golf and see if we have a chance to win the match.

Q. When you hit your drive on 18, were you thinking that it was going to be a lot worse and then what was your yardage and sight line to the green on 18?

JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL: Well, I thought that I was going to be worse than the one I got. The yardage was 163 yards to the hole. Naturally, I had a few trees just -- almost directly in the line between the ball and the flag. That's why I had to aim a fraction right, but I hit a good shot.

Q. What did you hit?


Q. And that was about, what, 25 feet?

JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL: Yeah, something like that.

Q. You just said out there that as the round goes on, you can feel the driving is getting a bit tighter?

JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL: Yes, it happened pretty much the same yesterday. Today, I start driving the ball really well. I mean, really happy with the way I was driving it. Then the last few holes, I started getting tighter and closer to my shoulders on the backswing; that is, again, causing the problem on the top of the backswing. That's what I'm working on.

Q. At what point do you know that you've made a bad backswing?

JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL: Pretty much as soon as I hit the ball.

Q. Do you know at the top?

JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL: Sometimes I feel it. Sometimes I don't. It's not something you can tell every time.

Q. You're on a pretty good roll now, between Nissan, Buick, and this. You're all the way back here; you're pretty much on the road back?

JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL: Well, I'm just trying to -- I've said that I still don't feel comfortable with my swing because, you know, I think it's going to be a matter of time and then work until I finally get it right and feel really comfortable with it. But I think I'm on the right track. It's just what I have to do is keep on trying to do the same on the golf course under pressure until it gets right.

Q. You are very popular over here. Do you feel great sympathy for Monty who has said he might not play in America this year because of crowd problems again this week?

JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL: I think, you know, he has a tough situation going. I mean, I don't know how it started. I don't know whose fault it might be. But I don't think it's fair on a player that, you know, has proved that he's a great player, he can compete anywhere. I don't think his attitude has been all that bad. And for the crowds to go after him the way they do sometimes I think is totally unfair.

Q. It's February. Have you ever played golf in heat like this? How is the weather affecting your game?

JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL: I think the weather is okay. I mean, obviously, it's really hot for February. But we've played in summertime, we've played in hotter weather than this, and I don't think that it's a factor. I think we are all pretty well prepared to play under these kind of heat conditions.

Well, it might affect the ball, the way it flies, I mean, because of the temperature of the ball sometimes flies a little bit longer and that's the only thing you have to take in consideration in February.

Q. We are seeing a lot of veteran players make making it to the weekends. So, when you get past a guy like Calcavecchia, do you feel like you dodged a bullet? When you saw him on the draw did you think it was going to be a dicey match?

JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL: Every match is going to be tough. You have the best 64 players in the world playing here. You cannot expect to have any easy matches, it doesn't matter if it's the first rounds or whatever the round is or whatever the guy you're playing with. You know, it's going to be tough. Simple as that.

For instance, tomorrow it's going to be another tough match, no question. Brad is playing well, he's putting well. He's doing pretty much everything very well and I'm going to have to play my best to have a chance to beat him. So, I don't think there is any surprises on that.

Q. I imagine in Ryder Cups over here you've heard comments from outside the ropes that you don't like, so how do you react?

JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL: Well, I mean, you just -- you don't put any attention to it. You just try to do what you have to do and don't allow those things to interfere with what you are doing.

You know, there is a lot of crowds. You know, there's a lot of people watching the match. Sometimes, you know, you have 25,000, 30,000 people watching the four matches at the Ryder Cup. You know, it's very difficult to have everybody behaving properly.

But you have to be prepared for that. It's just very simple. It would be nicer if everybody would behave properly. I think that's what should happen. But unfortunately, it doesn't happen.

Q. Do you think Monty would be better off if he just ignored the comments?

JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL: I'm not going to say anything about that. (Laughter.)

Q. You got two drops on 18; correct? You got one from a sprinkler head and one from --?

JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL: Actually, I had two sprinkler heads.

Q. Do you think it improved your angle at all?

JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL: Not so much the angle, but it improved the lie a little bit, yeah. It was not -- to start with it was not a bad lie. But where I hit it from, it was a better lie than what I had before.

Q. You may have addressed this this week, but you are hitting considerably longer now, aren't you?

JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL: Well, I'm hitting it a little bit longer, yeah, but mainly because I am hitting more times in the middle of the club face. Very simple. (Laughter.)

Q. Nothing to do with drugs then?


Q. Can you draw any correlation to the way you are playing this week and Torrey Pines? Do you feel like it's kind of similar?

JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL: It's difficult to say, because the format is different. You play a different way on the golf course when you are playing stroke-play and you are playing match-play. So, it's very difficult to compare the two because you are playing under different circumstances.

I'm striking the ball quite well, pretty much the same way I stroke it at Torrey Pines, but I think there is more pressure all through the round here.

As I said earlier in the week, playing match-play, you cannot allow to make my mistakes because the other guy is going to jump on you straightaway. Stroke-play you might make a bogey, but you still have a few holes to play and you may recover from that.

Q. What would you say the turning point was in this match?

JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL: I don't think there was a turning point. I think the match was all day long very close. It could have gone either way. He got it back to even, he made a mistake on 15. We had birdie chances on 16 we both missed.

The important putt was maybe the one he didn't hole on 17. He had a great chance on 17 to win the hole and get the match square. I think he hit a lovely putt, left edge and the ball never moved. He hit the edge of the hole and it didn't go in.

Q. Do you think realistically it's possible to be top of the Money List here and the Order of Merit in the same year?

JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL: Actually, I never thought about it. But I think it's very difficult, yeah everything is possible. Everything is possible, I guess if everything is possible, sometimes I can hit the ball straight off the tee, that tells you that everything is possible in life.

Q. You could be number on on both on Sunday?

JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL: No, I don't think so.

Q. You are at this moment?

JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL: Yeah, well but at the end of the year, that's what counts, isn't it? (Smiles).

End of FastScripts....

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