Spanish duo plan comebacks




Sergio Garcia has declared himself ready for another assault on the world number one spot, while Jose Maria Olazabal is simply hoping to avoid the cut as the Spanish duo prepare for their eagerly-anticipated comebacks tomorrow.

Garcia and Olazabal will both compete at the Castello Masters, with the former returning from a two-month break and the latter taking part in only his second tournament in the past year.

Garcia withdrew from frontline golf following a 19-month title drought that has seen him slump from undisputed world number two to 68th.

Having seen his renewed enthusiasm for the game cemented while vice-captain during Europe’s nailbiting Ryder Cup win earlier this month, the 30-year-old has decided to make his playing comeback at his home club, the Club de Campo del Mediterraneo course where his father works.

“I feel fine after my two-month break,” said Garcia.

“I made the decision to stop between The Players (Championship) and the US Open, as I had lost my motivation and felt drained.

“I needed the break, I had lost the desire to play, and practising had become an obligation.

“Now, on the contrary, I feel full of energy, and actually enjoy practising. I have set myself new goals and look forward to performing again at the top level.

“I have been doing different things these two months – other sports and relaxing with my friends and family.

“I have also been working on my mental approach with a sophrologist (self-help expert) to help me put things in the right place. I know more about myself and feel able to answer my own questions.

“I now have clear goals: for a start, I want to win the Castello Masters and the remaining tournaments, and then I want to return gradually to where I should be, and perform to my full potential, i.e. be world number one.

“I needed to miss the game a little bit. Obviously I missed it – that’s why I am back.”

Garcia was the inaugural winner of the Castello Masters two years ago and finished fourth last year.

“The first edition of the Castello Masters was a very emotional moment for me,” he explained.

“Firstly, Seve (Ballesteros) had just been diagnosed (with a brain tumour). Secondly, we had been working for a long time to host a European Tour event in my home club.

“And thirdly, I won at home, in front of my family and friends and the people of Castellon, particularly the kids. It was a perfect and very special week.

“This year, the course is in top condition, I have never seen it as good. My father and the maintenance team have done a great job.”

Garcia’s recent problems pale in comparison to those of Olazabal, who will attempt yet another comeback from the rheumatism and tendonitis that have plagued him on and off for 15 years.

The 44-year-old, who is favourite to succeed Colin Montgomerie as Ryder Cup captain, missed the cut in his only other tournament this year, July’s French Open.

He was said to be “exhausted” after firing an opening-round 82 but bounced back with a 70.

The two-time Masters champion admitted his latest playing return could be even more of an ordeal.

“I’ve managed to make successful comebacks in the past, but it gets tougher as you get older,”

said Olazabal, who made an emotional appearance as a surprise fifth vice-captain at the Ryder Cup.

“Your physical condition is tougher to maintain, especially if – like me – you have gone almost three years without being able to exercise properly.

“It has been very frustrating not being able to play, not being able to practice and not feeling well. That hurts.

“But I’ve always been a positive person and I am already looking forward to getting myself fitter for next year.”

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