Ballesteros has to withdraw

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The Independent Online
Seve Ballesteros was forced to withdraw after playing only 10 holes of the Players' Championship at Ponte Vedra Beach in Florida yesterday.

The Spaniard, who is languishing in 174th place in the European Order of Merit after playing only two events on this season's tour, suffered more problems with his back.

Ballesteros, winner of three Opens and two US Masters, reported that his back, which had forced him recently to take a five-month break from golf, felt fine on the range and did not tighten up until he had hit his sixth tee shot.

"I can't swing the club. I couldn't get it far enough back and couldn't swing it forward," he said. Ballesteros still hopes to play next week in Atlanta and at the Masters the following week.

Ballesteros, recently named captain of the European Ryder Cup team, shot 41 for his first nine and then bogeyed the 10th hole to stand six over par when he pulled out.

In Santo da Serra, England's Paul Lyons at last made a name for himself on the European circuit when he took a share of the first-round lead in the Madeira Island Open.

The 29-year-old from Bromley, playing only his fourth tour event in a professional career dating back to 1987, had an eagle and five birdies in a four-under-par 68, which on a blustery day was good enough to put him alongside another Englishman, Ross McFarlane, in the race for the pounds 50,000 first prize.