Masters memories: Jose Maria Olazabal's magical comeback in 1999
Background: Jose Maria Olazabal had feared his career was at an end.
The Spaniard, such a fixture of Major championships and Europe’s Ryder Cup successes, couldn’t walk with a foot injury and had quit playing.
But after a year away from the game, a German doctor treated him for a back problem and, miraculously, he could suddenly move around freely once again.
Now a man reborn, his quest for another green jacket – to add to the one he won in 1994 – began with rounds of 70, 66 and 73.
Immediately behind him, as the final round got under way, was a man just as desperate to write his own page in Augusta National folklore: Greg Norman.
The scene: Consecutive birdies on the 3rd, 4th and 5th saw Norman draw level but the Spaniard fought back valiantly.
Norman’s 25-foot eagle on the 13th put him into the lead but it was a feeling he could only enjoy for a brief moment. Olazabal slammed in a 20-foot birdie putt to immediately tie.
Davis Love III briefly threatened, getting to -6 with a birdie at the 16th, but found the gap too big to close.
The moment: Olazabal’s resolve seemed to knock the stuffing out of Norman. The Great White Shark’s battle scars from so many foiled attempts at Augusta resurfaced and he bogeyed both 14 and 15 to take him out of reach.
A back nine of 33, meanwhile, allowed Olazabal to enjoy a leisurely walk down 18 and seal an emotional victory.
“This one I’m sure I’m going to enjoy it much more than the one I had before for several reasons,” he admitted in the aftermath.
“When you win two (Masters) and especially the way I did it today, it means a lot more to me.”