Battler Olazabal on the comeback trail again

Twice U.S. Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal makes another comeback from injury this week, hoping to soon find full fitness.

The 44-year-old Spaniard`s career has been constantly hindered by injuries and ill-health, including losing two years to rheumatoid arthritis in his feet in the mid 1990s.

Olazabal, who has been stricken with rheumatic pain in his back and shoulders for the past two years, is determined to overcome his latest setback which has confined him to just one event so far this year, in early July.

"I`m feeling better, though not 100 per cent well," Olazabal told reporters before this week`s Castello Masters which starts on Thursday. "I`m still in pain and need to go on improving in order to perform at full level. It`s a slow progress but I feel positive as long as I`m heading in the right direction."

Olazabal`s only 2010 tournament was the French Open and it did not give him too much encouragement as he missed the cut in Versailles with rounds of 82 and 70.

Having taken an enforced break since, Olazabal is optimistic he could be winning his fitness battle. "I cannot practice as I would like to - my limit is 130 balls and a bit of short-game work," Olazabal said.

"But I actually played four practice rounds in a row last week without problem, that`s why I`m here.

"I feel definitely better than in the French Open," he added.

Olazabal`s best 2009 result was 14th in the Castello Masters. This week he plays the first two rounds with another Spaniard who has been on a break from golf, Sergio Garcia. Garcia`s two-month absence has been through an ailing swing rather than an ailing body, however.