Baker's vision of the future

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The Independent Online
Peter Baker caught a glimpse of the future face of golf on Wednesday and perhaps it encouraged him to get a move on. The visage belongs to Spain's 10-years-old age group champion, Carlos Del Moral, who partnered Baker in the Turespana Masters pro-am here.

Moral, from nearby Escorpion, immediately impressed the Wolverhampton professional. "He is the most stylish young player I have ever seen," Baker said. "He struck the ball well and hit it a good distance. With a bit of luck I'll be finished by the time he gets on Tour."

Before he is done, Baker has it in mind to win a few more tournaments and an opening 67, five under par, in the event proper at El Saler yesterday left him one behind the leaders Ross McFarlane, Fabrice Tarnaud and Diego Borrego.

Baker is still only 28, but it is eight years since he was hailed as a new star by Nick Faldo, whom he had just beaten in a play-off for the Benson and Hedges International title. Two more wins followed in 1993, plus a fine performance on a losing Ryder Cup team, but time marches on.

"My only aim is to win," said Baker, who polished off his round with birdies at the eighth and ninth, his last two holes. "I have not won since '93 and I liked it. I drove the ball the best I have all year, which is useful here."

El Saler has the unanimous endorsement of the players, by no means a common accolade. "It is a very fair test," said McFarlane, who used all the clubs in his bag bar four-iron and wedge in his seven-birdie round.

"And what wind there was, was in a very friendly direction," he added. "I was expecting to come here and hit shots knee-high to a grasshopper, but you could flight the ball." McFarlane is without a win in 10 years on the Tour.

Seve Ballesteros could only manage one birdie in his 76, two shots worse than Spain's 16-year-old European amateur champion, Sergio Garcia.

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