Golf: Ballesteros taken with greensomes: Tournoi Perrier de Paris

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The Independent Culture
WHEN the sweetest double act since Tate & Lyle swung into action here yesterday morning, the temperature was -1F and the number of spectators was barely higher. Some people may think the Tournoi Perrier de Paris is an event straight out of Euro Disney, but not Jose-Maria Olazabal and Seve Ballesteros.

The format at Golf de Saint-Cloud is fourballs, foursomes, greensomes and, for the final round tomorrow, fourballs again. 'It's a wonderful idea,' Ballesteros said. 'It's just what the (European) Tour needs to break the monotony. An endless stream of strokeplay events is boring. If this was just another tournament we wouldn't be here.'

Yesterday, the most successful Ryder Cup pair in history shot 67 in the foursomes (the one where you hit alternate shots, ie, Seve drives into the trees and then Olly peppers the pin) to stand at a healthy 10 under par at the half-way stage. Today, it is greensomes (the one where both players drive and the foursomes format resumes from the best drive) and Ballesteros is so taken with the whole ball game that he wants it introduced into the Ryder Cup.

At present, the biennial match between Europe and the United States consists of foursomes, fourballs and singles with 28 points at stake. Ballesteros, who is a member of the Ryder Cup committee, wants to add greensomes. 'The more matches we have before the singles would be in our favour,' he said. Europe are traditionally strong at the team game and weak in the singles. In the last six competitions, Europe have never been behind going into the final day.

Coincidentally, it was announced in America that a new competition, the United States versus the Rest of the World, will be inaugurated this year. Called the President's Cup, it will have similar specifications to the Ryder Cup, teams of 12, matches over three days, etc., but the major difference is that there will be five fourballs and foursomes. It will be played in a non-Ryder Cup year and the Rest of the World team will contain players from anywhere but Europe. Thus people like Greg Norman, Nick Price and Ernie Els would be eligible. The first match will be in Washington DC on 16 to 18 September and will clash with the Dunhill British Masters at Woburn.

The first prize here is pounds 70,000 (pounds 35,000 apiece) and there is no doubt that Olazabal, who has won nearly dollars 500,000 (pounds 340,000) in the last two weeks, and Ballesteros are hell-bent on winning it. When they teed off at 8.40am in the company of the French players, Jean Van de Velde and Christian Cevaer, there were 28 spectators present but by the time they reached the turn, several hundred more Parisians had stirred from their beds and they had as much to cheer from Van de Velde and Cevaer as from the Spaniards.

As the new Masters champion, Olazabal, of course, is on cloud nine and between shots, he and Ballesteros kept up a running dialogue. Their only bogey in two days came at the seventh where Ballesteros left a putt four feet short and his partner missed it. Olazabal was furious with himself.

When they sat down in the press tent, tea was served to Ballesteros. 'What about Jose?' Seve asked. 'He's an honorary member of the club.' Ballesteros had to get the dig in some time. At the beginning of the week, the president of Saint- Cloud gave honorary membership to the younger Spaniard but not the elder. Ballesteros was in a mischievous mood. As to the little matter of Olazabal's name tag on his Green Jacket being spelt Olazabel, Ballesteros said: 'You know what the Americans are like. I've been going there for 18 years and they still don't know how to say my name.'

The half-way cut was made at four under par and the field of 60 partnerships was reduced to 30 for the last two rounds. D J Russell and Peter Baker, who led after the first round with a better ball score of 58, are at 14 under par following a 68 in the foursomes and have been caught by another English duo, Russell Claydon and Paul Eales. Ballesteros and Olazabal are lying third, four strokes behind.

Russell and Baker, both Midlanders, have been travelling companions for eight years. 'We know each other's weaknesses,' Russell said. 'You've got to put your heads together. Just look at Seve and Olly.'

TOURNOI PERRIER DE PARIS FOURSOMES Second-round scores (GB or Irl unless stated): 126 R Claydon and P Eales 60 66; P Baker and D J Russell 58 68. 130 S Ballesteros and J-M Olazabal (Sp) 63 67. 131 M Mouland and J Spence 62 69; O Edmond and F Cupillard (Fr) 65 66; M Pinero and J-M Canizares (Sp) 63 68. 132 F Regard and J Remesy (Fr) 65 67. 133 T Levet and M Pendaries (Fr) 62 71; A Sherborne and P Curry 65 68; J Van de Velde and C Cevaer (Fr) 66 67; M Roe and R Lee 64 69. 134 K Waters and R Mann 65 69; J Arruti and T Munoz (Sp) 65 69; P Lawrie and S McAllister 66 68; M Davis and D R Jones 66 68; R Berhorst and A Cejka (Ger) 65 69; S Richardson and P Mitchell 65 69; G J Brand and G Ralph 65 69. 135 I Gervas and D Hospital (Sp) 66 69; R Goosen (SA) and G Evans 66 69; A Forsbrand and V Forsbrand (Swe) 66 69; A Garrido and I Garrido (Sp) 65 70; O Sellberg and N Fasth (Swe) 64 71. 136 D Smyth and P McGinley 68 68; M Wills and R Burns 66 70; M-A Jimenez and J Rivero (Sp) 66 70; J Lomas and M Tunnicliff 65 71; H Selby-Green and J Robson 66 70; J Quiros and D Borrego (Sp) 63 73; M Besanceney and J Guepy (Fr) 67 69.