Recent Ryder Cup vice-captain Jose Maria Olazabal is set to make a third career comeback at the Madrid Masters today and insists that he would be content simply to make the cut.
The two-time Masters champion, 42, assisted European captain Nick Faldo at Valhalla last month but has been plagued with injury and fatigue and has not played a competitive round since June, when he narrowly missed out on qualification for the Open.
That was less than three months after resuming competition, having been out since the previous August.
“I didn’t think I would be back playing so soon, but it is very important to support the tournaments we have in Spain. We have great weather and courses and I am helping fly the flag for Spanish golf,“ said Olazabal, who has been blighted by rheumatism since 1995.
“My first target is to see if I can make the cut. I don’t have any great expectations. After such a long time without playing, it feels strange. But this is normal after so much time out of competition.
“The last few months I have played every day, doing 18 holes one day and just hitting balls the next, to try to keep the feel of the club.
“I stopped taking the medication eight weeks ago and the positive news is that my condition has not worsened. It is getting better and that’s good.“
Olazabal is refusing to think too far ahead and plans to take it one tournament at a time as he steps up his recovery.
“After this week I will try to play at the Castellon Masters on October 23 but after that I don’t know,” he added.
“If I feel okay this week I will go (to Castellon). This week I just want to test myself and see if my body can stand up to a tournament.”
Fellow Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez could move up to third in the European Tour Order of Merit if he wins in Madrid, closing the gap on leader Robert Karlsson, and although he has not won on mainland Spain for 10 years, he is quietly confident of victory on the Club de Campo course.
“Let’s see if I can get a third victory this season here,” he said.
“I’m playing well and this golf course suits me. The greens have improved - they are really good this year.
“Let’s just see what happens.”