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Laureates  

José María Olazábal - BIOGRAPHY

José María Olazábal was born in (Hondarribia, Guipúzcoa, 1966 - ) started playing golf at four years of age at the Royal Golf Club of San Sebastian, where his father worked. Before becoming a professional player in 1985, he won several amateur tournaments such as the Junior World Cup (Atlanta, 1982), the Gold Medal at the Mediterranean Games (Casablanca, 1983) and the British Youths Amateur Championship (1985). He won his first two European Tour titles in 1986: the Ebel European Masters Swiss Open and the Sanyo Open. That same year, he was named best rookie of the year on the European Tour Order of Merit, coming second in the overall rankings. He made his debut in the Ryder Cup in 1987, playing a crucial role alongside Severiano Ballesteros (1989 Prince of Asturias Award for Sports) in Europe’s first win on American soil in the history of this competition. He won his first tournament in the United States in 1990, the World Series, held in Akron (Ohio). At the end of the 1994 season, he was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and stopped competing for two years.

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Winner of the Augusta Masters Tournament on two occasions (1994 and 1999), he was a member of Europe’s Ryder Cup team seven times, winning on four occasions. After his last appearance in the Ryder Cup (2006), he was elected captain of the European team in 2012, the second Spaniard to assume this responsibility after Severiano Ballesteros, who was captain in 1997. Furthermore, the European Tour Players Committee appointed him as the only candidate, the result of the admiration and respect that the figure of Olazábal awakens amongst professionals. His election also attracted praise from members of the US team. During the contest for the Ryder Cup, the only sporting competition in which Europe participates as a team, Olazábal showed great leadership, achieving victory over the United States on their own course. Against all odds, Europe rallied from four points behind, stealing victory in extremis in one of the moments considered epic in the golfing world. This victory has become known in the history of the sport as “the Miracle of Medinah”, after the name of the course where the Ryder Cup was played. The final result was 14.5 points for Europe and 13.5 for the United States.

A world-renowned golfer, he is known for his competitive spirit and his ability to go even further. Holder of the honorific title of “Favourite Son” of Hondarribia, he has received the Gold Medal for Sporting Merit (1997). In 2009, he was elected to the prestigious World Golf Hall of Fame, which brings together a group of players considered the best in the history of the sport, being the only Spaniard, along with Severiano Ballesteros, to hold this honour.