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Early retirement hints from Olazabal

Jose Maria Olazabal has surprised the golf world by revealing the end of his illustrious playing career may come sooner rather than later.

The champion Spaniard made the disclosure in Paris as he wound up preparations for the defence of his Novotel French Open title, surprising most with talk on likely retirement less than a month after finishing fourth to Tiger Woods in the US Masters.

The 36-year-old Olazabal has clinched 22 European Tour events in his career, a pair of US Masters titles plus seven other victories around the globe, among them the recent Buick Invitational on the US Tour.

"The years are going by and I am getting closer to the finishing line," said Olazabal. "It is a matter of preparing yourself. I don't know where the finishing line is but I am going to get the best out of the years I have left.

"I am 36 and I don't believe a miracle will happen to me when I am 55 that will make me feel as though I am 25."

Olazabal has battled to find consistency in his game, especially off the tee, but of late he has at least managed some comfort in the driving department, benefitting from working with Butch Harmon.

But with the onslaught of new technology and the success of younger players, such as champion compatriot Sergio Garcia, Olazabal already can see early retirement writing on the wall.

"You see more and more young players playing the game better, being more prepared, physically and mentally, and to keep up with those guys at that level you have to work harder than we did before," he said.

"I realised this situation well before going to Butch.

But I will try to keep on playing the best I can and see if I can win one more major and if that happens, maybe I can win another one.

"Though, I have to say two majors for a guy that was born on a farm is pretty good."

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