Ballesteros loses his way

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The Independent Online

Greg Norman and Seve Ballesteros missed the halfway cut at the European Masters in Crans-sur-Sierre on a day when Steven Richardson finished with a 13-under-par aggregate of 131.

Norman, who won the World Series in Akron, Ohio, last Sunday, could not cope with the greens and shot a second-round 72 for 145, two shots over the cut. Ballesteros continued his miserable form by shooting a 76 for 150 and there must be doubts whether the Spaniard will play in the Ryder Cup later this month if he does not show improvement in the next two weeks.

Richardson, in contrast, shot a superb eight-under-par 64, which included nine birdies and only one bogey, and that by three-putting. Richardson is 115th in the European Order of Merit but, unlike Ballesteros, is beginning to regain the form that won him a Ryder Cup place at Kiawah Island in 1991. He had six birdies in his first seven holes.

He leads Eduardo Romero, the defending champion from Argentina, by two shots and the Spaniard Ignacio Garrido by three with Colin Montgomerie back among the also-rans on 138. The US Open champion, Corey Pavin, is on 141.

Norman had no excuses. "This is a very humbling game. What can I say? I didn't make a putt, it's as simple as that," he said.

"You don't like to miss a cut, especially when you come over here. I don't miss many, the last time over here was probably in 1977 but I missed the cut at the US Open at Baltrusol two years ago. I couldn't get a handle on the greens. Thirteen under is leading and I should have been able to adjust."

Ballesteros could not hide his disappointment. "It's the same old story. I'm trying my best but I'm playing very badly," he said.

Asked whether he had any thoughts of withdrawing from the Ryder Cup team, he replied: "I qualified so why should I think about dropping out? I'm not thinking about that at the moment."

Montgomerie made the cut easily but he, too, was most unhappy, refusing to speak to the Press later after he had three-putted his last green for a two-under-par 70.

n Brian Barnes, the British Senior Open champion, was forced to withdraw from the Scottish Seniors Open at Royal Aberdeen yesterday after being taken to hospital with another blood clot in the main artery of his right leg. Barnes, who underwent surgery to remove a clot from his thigh three weeks ago, was put on a blood-thinning drip which will remain in place for up to seven days.