On February 5, 1966, one of the Basque Country’s most internationally renowned sporting figures, golfer Jose Maria “Txema” Olazabal, was born in Hondarribia, Gipuzkoa.


Jose Maria Olazabal in the bunker. Photo by Cyrille Bertin, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

In the words of the World Golf Hall of Fame:

At Real Golf Club de San Sebastian, Olazabal’s father was the greenskeeper. To teach his young son the game, his father cut down a three iron and took him out on the course late in the day. Spending much of his adolescent life developing his game on the golf course, he exhibited his talent by winning The Amateur Championship at the ripe old age of 18, the only winner of The Amateur Championship to later win a professional major since World War II.

Olazabal’s career highlights would ultimately include winning the Masters Tournament twice (in 1994 and 1999) as well as captaining the winning Europe team at the dramatic 2012 Ryder Cup. In total, his career has included 23 European Tour wins and 6 PGA Tour wins.

Check out Olazabal thanking his parents in Basque at his World Golf Hall of Fame induction speech in 2009 (at approximately 1m 10s onward):