Golf

Published: Wednesday May 21, 2014 MYT 10:17:13 PM
Updated: Wednesday May 21, 2014 MYT 10:18:23 PM

Jimenez is my inspiration to improve - Olazabal

VIRGINIA WATER England (Reuters) - Jose Maria Olazabal still dreams of regaining the form that secured two major titles in the 1990s and is using the stunning golf being produced by fellow Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez as his inspiration.

The 50-year-old Jimenez is the European Tour's oldest champion, having lifted the Spanish Open title on Sunday, and Olazabal believes he too is capable of mixing it with the young guns at the age of 48.

"I have to say when I see Miguel doing the things he does it lifts my spirits," the 1994 and 1999 U.S. Masters winner told Reuters in an interview on the eve of the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.

"I hold on to that. I still love the game, I still love practising and that's what I want too. Miguel is an inspiration - simple as that."

Fellow veterans Tom Watson and Greg Norman have come close to winning major championships in recent years and Olazabal believes it is simply a matter of time before a 50-something achieves the feat.

"Nowadays the older players are better prepared physically and don't get injured as much as we used to," said the 2012 European Ryder Cup captain.

"I believe sooner or later someone in his 50s will win a major."

Olazabal feels it is more likely to happen on a traditional British Open seaside links.

"You don't need to be extraordinarily long off the tee at The Open, it's more about where to place the ball, about using your imagination," he said.

"In that regard The Open out of all the majors will be the one that favours the over-50s. You need to use your head, use your experience," added Olazabal who was speaking at the launch of Nespresso's Perfect Shot competition at Wentworth.

"You need to avoid the bunkers and when you are around the greens you can chip and run. All those elements help."

IMPROVED PUTTER

Jimenez's victory in Girona was his 21st on the European Tour and Olazabal feels his compatriot has been blessed by an improved putter in recent years.

"Miguel has always been very consistent from tee to green," he explained. "His only weakness, if that's the word, has been his putting.

"He's not a bad putter but he's a streaky putter and I think that's the part of his game that's improved in the last year or so. He's much more consistent with that club and I think that's the reason he's done so well lately."

Olazabal has won 23 times on the European Tour but the last occasion was nine years ago at the Mallorca Classic.

"My game is off at the moment," he said. "I'm working on a couple of things in my swing with my coach.

"It's going to take a little while until I get used to that.

My hand position at the top of the backswing is my main problem.

"I get my hands a little low and close to my shoulder and that doesn't give me the width to get through the ball. We're just trying to get the hands a bit higher.

"It's going to take a little bit of time and I need to be patient. On the other hand I want to see results as soon as possible."

Most players of his age would be planning ahead for the lucrative senior tour eligible to the over-50s but that does not enter into Olazabal's thinking.

"I have no plans as far as that is concerned," he said. "I want to live for today, for now, not the senior tour."

(Editing by Justin Palmer)

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