Jose Maria Olazabal believes golf’s Major championships can be won by many of the world’s elite and is relishing returning to Augusta National this week.

Europe’s Ryder Cup captain thinks the quality and quantity of top-class players will mean golf’s biggest prizes will be more openly contested, including the Masters.

Olazabal admits it is “great for the game” to have Tiger Woods back competing close to his best but insists the race for the Green Jacket will be fierce.

“I think the competition is getting closer and closer. The differences between players are not as big as they were before and the guys that are coming on Tour are better prepared physically and mentally,” he said.

The 46-year-old will compete in the season’s first Major, a tournament he has twice previously won in 1994 and 1999 and admits Augusta holds fond memories.

“It’s always been a very special place for me this one, and as I said I have great memories from not just the victories themselves but also for the history,” he said.

“All the past champions, the relationships that are built through the years, all the stories they keep on telling us – it’s a very special place.”

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