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Jean Van de Velde on comeback trail again

Injury-jinxed Frenchman Jean Van de Velde will make his fourth comeback on the European Tour when he tees off in the opening round of the Estoril Portuguese Open on Thursday.

The 39-year-old, who infamously lost the 1999 British Open at Carnoustie after running up a triple-bogey seven at the final hole, is determined to resurrect a 15-year tour career following two reconstructive knee operations since 2002.

"It's my fourth comeback and I'm hoping this one will work," Van de Velde told reporters on Wednesday.

"In the previous ones, I tried to get back hoping the knee being 50 or 60 percent fit was going to be enough, but it wasn't.

"You really need to be totally healthy to play on the European Tour and now I'm a good 80 percent fit. That's a solid base.

"If I can pace myself properly, I'm hoping the knee won't go back to the level where it is unbearable," added the 1999 Ryder Cup player, who had medical exemptions to compete on the European Tour in 2003 and last year.

"This week I just want to get back into the swing of things, manage my way around to make a decent score."

Van de Velde made his first tour comeback last April but, after failing to take advantage of a medical extension, lost his card.

On three occasions, he had to take two months off because of knee pain, caused more by walking on golf courses than by swinging a club.

After another failed comeback bid last September, he has worked hard at building up leg strength and practising.

Van de Velde, who won the 1993 Roma Masters after a playoff with New Zealand's Greg Turner, will be relying on invitations to play in main European Tour events this year, along with a few starts on the minor Challenge Tour.


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