Golf: Ballesteros pulls out of desert purgatory

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The Independent Online
ON THURSDAY it was the wind that blew Seve Ballesteros off course and up to 13 over par after 12 holes played into the teeth of a gale at the Moroccan Open. Yesterday a stomach upset forced the Ryder Cup captain to retire without hitting another ball.

Denmark's Steen Tinning also withdrew, leaving 68 other players to complete their first rounds yesterday, some with horrendous scores after their battle through atrocious weather conditions. In all, 48 players failed to break 80; three were in the 90s, and only six of the players unfortunate enough to be drawn in the second half of the field managed sub-par rounds.

It all left Des Smyth, who, in ideal conditions yesterday morning, equalled the course record with 64, eight under par, still leading by three shots from Mathias Gronberg, of Sweden, and Pedro Linhart, of Spain. Close behind were Smyth's Irish compatriot Raymond Burns, the German Alex Cejka and Australia's Stephen Leaney, all of whom shot 68 before the gale force wind developed yesterday and forced play to be abandoned with half the field still on the course.

Yesterday morning conditions were again ideal, calm and sunny. Those completing their opening rounds had only a 20-minute break before starting their second rounds because, under the rules, the second half of the field in the first round have to go out first in the second.