Golf: Ballesteros fails to cut mustard

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The Independent Online
A LARGE, enthusiastic crowd in holiday mood and holiday weather followed the fortunes and misfortunes of Seve Ballesteros, Anders Forsbrand and Craig Stadler in the second round of the Scandinavian Masters here yesterday over the protracted Barseback course. The cosmopolitan three-ball should have come equipped with a government warning. Watching this trio represented a danger to health and safety.

At the par-three fourth hole, for example, there were successive cries of 'Fore]' causing spectators to duck and dive and cover their heads with their arms. It was not wise to venture further than the clubhouse. Ballesteros, who had a purple patch at the beginning of the season with two victories, is going through a customary blue period. 'I think you could beat me at the moment,' he said. A slight exaggeration.

'No excuses,' he mourned. 'Mentally I'm not competing. My mind is not on it. There is something wrong with my mind but I don't want to talk about it.' A pregnant pause, perhaps? His wife Carmen is due to give birth in September but he would not talk about that either. In the opening round he had three bogeys in the first four holes. 'It's not a bad start, a bad middle or a bad finish,' he said. 'It's my driver. I just can't play.'

Ballesteros has barely competed in the big ones this year. He left Augusta with a final round of 81; he left the US Open at Pebble Beach with a 77 and he missed the cut in the Open Championship at Muirfield, ensuring he did so with a double bogey at the 18th hole in the second round.

Sweden has been another pain in the Barseback. He shot 76 in the first round and a level par 72 yesterday was not enough to keep him in Malmo. On 148, at four over par, Ballesteros missed the cut and headed for home in Pedrena on the north coast of Spain. He has now missed three cuts out of his last six tournaments.

Ballesteros had three birdies in the first five holes and three bogeys by the 10th. He seemed resigned to his fate. Stadler, a former Masters champion, was even more erratic and he cared enough to make everyone around him aware of his displeasure. After playing a poor shot he would smash his club, axe-like, into the ground or the sand. The rotund American, commonly referred to as the Walrus, was not a happy animal.

In spite of the distractions, Forsbrand, fourth in the Order of Merit and enjoying his finest season, came in with a 70 and at 139, five under par for the championship, he was comfortably perched on the leaderboard. With the Swedes making a corporate effort it was beginning to look like a smorgasbord. Robert Karlsson, joint third in this tournament last year, was up there, keeping company not only with Forsbrand but also Per- Ulrik Johansson. With some big money tournaments later this year counting towards Ryder Cup points, Sweden might finally get a man into the European team.

Barseback, measuring nearly 7,300 yards, was proving to be a formidable test of golf, particularly for the late starters in the second round when the wind grew in intensity. However, a Spaniard who did get among the Swedes was Jose-Maria Olazabal.

Olazabal, third in the Open Championship, two strokes behind Faldo, went to the turn in 32 with four birdies, had a fifth at the 12th hole to stand at five under par and shared the lead with Forsbrand and Karlsson.

Olazabal's round of 67 was the best of the day. His putting was outstanding but he had a stroke of luck at the 17th where his approach shot was missing the green to the left when it struck a girl and rebounded on to the putting surface. Olazabal, as a token of reward, presented her with a golf ball and a glove.

Faldo, two under par after the first round, went out in 36 yesterday but put a rare eagle among the pigeons with a three at the 547- yards 12th hole. Faldo finished with a 72 and is three strokes off the pace.

Those at two over par for the championship, and there were plenty of them, had an anxious wait before learning that they would not have to pack their weekend bags.

Derrick Cooper was of that number after a grey-haired finish. Out in 33, he came back in 40, rounding thigns off with a triple- bogey seven. He floated a two- iron into a bunker on the right, left the ball in the trap, finally succeeded in shanking it across the green and took three putts to get down. As anti-climaxes go, it was quite spectacular.

SCANDINAVIAN MASTERS (Malmo) Qualifiers and second-round scores (GB and Irl unless stated): 139 A Forsbrand (Swe) 69 70; J-M Olazabal (Sp) 72 67; R Karlsson (Swe) 70 69. 140 P-U Johansson (Swe) 70 70; H Clark 67 73. 141 P O'Malley (Aus) 71 70; P Baker 72 69; S Richardson 66 75. 142 M Davis 71 71; M Roe 70 72; S Lyle 70 72; V Singh (Fiji) 68 74; J Spence 70 72; J D Blake (US) 69 73; D Mijovic (Can) 72 70; N Faldo 70 72; F Nobilo (NZ) 72 70; R Allenby (Aus) 71 71; C Moody 72 70. 143 B Ogle (Aus) 72 71; C Mason 72 71; R Goosen (SA) 71 72; W Westner (SA) 69 74. 144 R Drummond 72 72; S Field 70 74; V Fernandez (Arg) 71 73; J Robinson 71 73; P Senior (Aus) 73 71; I Palmer (SA) 73 71; G Day (US) 70 74; R Hartmann (US) 72 72. 145 G Nicklaus (US) 72 73; P Smith 73 72; A Hunter 70 75; S Luna (Sp) 71 74; P Teravainen (US) 73 72; G J Turner (NZ) 75 70; D Edlund (Swe) 69 76; G Cali (It) 74 71; *N Fast (Swe) 72 73; R Davis (Aus) 72 73; G Levenson (SA) 71 74; T Johnstone (Zim) 72 73; M Harwood (Aus) 70 75; J Haeggman (Swe) 71 74; J van de Velde (Fr) 71 74. 146 R Boxall 71 75; R Winchester 73 73; D Cooper 73 73; P Hall 71 75; A Gillner (Swe) 74 72; S McAllister 76 70; D Feherty 72 74; J Carriles (Sp) 70 76; M Clayton (Aus) 71 75; S Grappasonni (It) 72 74; M Farry (Fr) 71 75; E Darcy 70 76; E O'Connell 72 74. 147 H Selby- Green 75 72; P Fowler (Aus) 75 72; A Sherborne 73 74; C Platts 73 74; D Clarke 72 75; P Walton 74 73; M Mackenzie 75 72; H Baiocchi (SA) 71 76; F Lindgren (Swe) 72 75; J Townsend (US) 74 73; B Malley (US) 73 74; P Fulke (Swe) 69 78; S Bowman 77 70; G Ralph 72 75; J Payne 75 72; M Miller 73 74; C Montgomerie 71 76; A Sorensen (Den) 74 73; J Robson 72 75; P Lonard (Aus) 71 76. * denotes amateur