Veteran Olazabal attempting to end seven-year title wait

Updated: Jan 22, 2012, 09:04 AM IST

George (South Africa): European Ryder Cup captain Jose Maria Olazabal is chasing a fairytale victory after surging to within two shots of the leaders in the third round of the Volvo Golf Champions event on Saturday.

The 45-year-old is the lowest-ranked player in the field at number 596 but a one-under 72 gave the Spaniard an eight-under tally of 211, two behind Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts (69) and South African Branden Grace (75).

Olazabal, who won the U.S. Masters in 1994 and 1999, has struggled badly with rheumatism and has made only sporadic appearances on the European Tour in recent years.

"There is always a chance you might not win again when your game is off," he told reporters. "It`s hard to be positive at times but I know I can fight."

Olazabal, who will skipper holders Europe in the biennial Ryder Cup match against the United States in Illinois in September, has won 23 times in a glittering career on the tour.

The popular Spaniard`s last victory came at the Mallorca Classic in 2005 and he had to dig deep to keep his title aspirations alive on Saturday when blustery winds and steady rain sent scores rocketing.

A wayward drive at the first hole cost Olazabal a bogey five and he also found trouble at the par-three 17th where he carded a five.

"It would mean a lot (to win)," he said after ending his round with four birdies in the last six holes. "I`m excited about what I have to do tomorrow.”

"It would be a great achievement just to hit seven or eight solid drives - as I do on the practice range."

Bureau Report