Olazabal predicting Åberg & Hojgaard to be in majors contention for many years

Bernie McGuire

Jose Maria Olazabal (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Bernie McGuire

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Jose Maria Olazabal proudly celebrated the 30th and also 25th anniversary of his maiden and second victory by playing all four rounds in the 88th Masters and then singling out two Masters rookies for special praise.

Olazabal, 58, was the second oldest past Augusta champion in this year’s 89-player field to play all four rounds with Fijian Vijay Singh securing the honours as the oldest at three years older than the Spaniard.

As the 1994 and 1999 Masters champion, Olazabal eventually shared 45th place alongside countryman and defending Masters champion Jon Rahm at nine-under-par.

Firstly pleasing for Olazabal was making the halfway cut to be assured of all four rounds for just a second occasion at Augusta National in the past 10-years.

“I enjoyed every bit of it, I have to say. It was a wonderful present to be able to play the weekend,” he said proudly.

“I think it’s the second time in ten years or whatever. I wasn’t expecting that, to be honest, tackling the week. I wasn’t expecting to play good golf like I did this week.

“Even on Friday, I thought I was going to be short by one. Luckily, because of the weather conditions, some players fell back, and I was able to play on the weekend. Obviously a great feeling to be here on the weekend 30 years after my victory.

“As I said, I’ve enjoyed every bit of it this week. I’m proud of myself, the way I played and the way I handled the situation.

“It’s always an honour and a privilege, I have to say. I’ve always said this, every time I get through that gate, I feel at peace with myself, and it’s a great feeling to have. That’s all I have to say”.

However, Olazabal also spoke as to how impressed he was with the efforts of two of Europe’s current best young gun golfers – Swede Ludvig Åberg and Dane Nicolai Hojgaard – with both teeing-up in a maiden Masters with 24-year-old Åberg making his major championship debut while the year younger Hojgaard playing his sixth major since his debut on golf’s biggest stage at the 2018 Open.

As well, the young Swede and his Danish colleague were members of last year’s victorious European Ryder Cup team and with Olazabal also present in Rome as one of Luke Donald’s vice-captains.

“I’ve been impressed with them, especially at the Ryder Cup,” said Olazabal. “I met the boys there for the first time, and the way they hit the ball, the way they swing, they do so many things well. It is not surprising that they’re in the mix.

“I believe that these young kids, if things go normal, I think they’re going to be in contention in majors many times”.

Of course, Aberg brilliantly finished runner-up behind Scottie Scheffler while Hojgaard also put himself into contention early when he birdied the eighth hole but only to self-destruct, taking a quadruple bogey ‘7’ at the par-3 12th hole on route to a 76 and an eventual share of 16th.

Nonetheless, it was the reigning Race to Dubai champion’s best result in a major.



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