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Olazabal wins second Masters title

José Maria Olazábal, had to contend with more than blustery conditions in pursuit of his second Masters title. After overcoming physical adversity and a field of the best players in the world, Olazábal was also faced with a tide of sentiment in support of his leading contender and playing partner, Greg Norman.

Playing sound fundamental golf and relying on a short game that rarely let him down all week, Olazábal answered Norman's and the gallery's challenge in seizing his second green jacket.

On a breezy afternoon in Augusta where player after player made sorties at the lead, the tournament resolved to a battle between Norman and Olazábal despite realistic challenges by Davis Love III, Steve Pate, Bob Estes and Lee Janzen.

While name after name popped on and off the leaderboard in the early afternoon, Olazábal and Norman stumbled in the wind on the front nine. Olazábal had three bogies and only one birdie on the front and before he took the outright lead at 6 under with an extremely rare birdie on the 10th.

Norman joined him in the lead at the 11th, sinking a 30-footer for birdie and produced one of the loudest reactions of the day from the crowd surrounding the green, but he would gave it right back when the 12th hole snared the Shark for the second day in a row, producing another bogey.

At the par 5 13th, Olazábal was forced to play conservatively after a poor drive, laying up on his second with 15 feet left for birdie and leaving the door open for Norman.

It appeared that Norman would capitalize on the opportunity when he rapped an aggressive 3-wood down the left hand side of the fairway, then nearly knocked down the flagstick with his approach, leaving himself a 20-footer for eagle. The putt was on line all the way, and the crowd erupted as Norman took the lead at 7 under.

The lead was short-lived after Olazábal cooly sank his putt for birdie on top of Norman's.

But Norman could not maintain the charge. The deadlock was broken again after his drive on 14 went right and his approach long. He failed to get up and down and made another bogie while Olazábal made a routine par.

While Olazábal continued to play solidly tee to green, Norman could not turn the tide of sentiment on his side to his advantage.

He made another bogey on the par-5 15th, making one of his worst swings of the day and missing the green from a little over 100 yards with a wedge in his hand. The poorly struck shot found the bunker on the short side of the green and his 15-foot attempt to save par spun around the lip of the cup but failed to drop.

Ahead on the par-3 16th, Love and Pate were sparring themselves and trying to put pressure on the leaders. Both overshot the green when Love produced a remarkable birdie with a wedge that reached the green at a right angle to the hole, then caught the incline and trickled impossibly into the cup.

Pate made bogey from the same spot when he missed the hole with his three foot par putt effectively knocking him out of title contention.

Despite a loose drive on the 17th, Olazábal was able to recover and get up and down for par to take a two shot lead to the 18th tee.


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