Golf: Ballesteros' isolationism: Spaniard aims to keep amazing record

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The Independent Online
SEVE BALLESTEROS, one shot off the lead after yesterday's first-round 67 at the Alfred Dunhill Belgian Open at Knokke-le-Zoute, said he was tired of advice as he strives to improve on an incredible record.

Ballesteros has won at least one tournament every year since 1976 until this year and time is running out.

After struggling for much of the past nine months Ballesteros is getting bored with well-meaning friends who pester him with advice and his Yorkshire caddie, Billy Foster, put up a notice on the practice ground yesterday morning reading: 'No more lessons this year, thank you very much.'

After finishing one shot behind the joint leaders, Gordon Brand Jnr and David Williams, Ballesteros said: 'Everybody wants to help me. It's very nice of them but the more advice I get, the worse I do.

'Today I play my own game and I do very well. I played a very steady round and apart from one bad shot at the 16th where I hit a seven- iron into a bunker and was buried, I was very pleased.'

Ballesteros had only the one bogey, at the 16th, but five birdies and admits that he is keen to keep up his yearly winning sequence.

Brand Jnr, who also had five birdies but no bogey in an almost flawless round, recently won the European Open and said that he has moved up a gear in the past few weeks even though his good form came too late for him to be included in the Ryder Cup team.

Williams, who is attached to Woburn, is in a very different state of mind to Brand Jnr, who is bubbling with confidence. Williams is 132nd in the European money list and needs a top-10 finish here if he is to save his players' card. He shot seven birdies but had bogeys at the seventh, where he was behind trees, and at the 14th where he was in thick rough.

Nick Faldo shot 68 and is well placed, though he was annoyed at the 18th where his 12- foot putt finished less than an an inch from the hole.

Ian Woosnam, second in the European money list to Faldo, had a slightly disappointing 72 but was nowhere near as disappointed as Peter Baker, who shot a 12-over-par 82 and then withdrew from the tournament, claiming that he was suffering from mental and physical exhaustion.

Baker, one of Europe's Ryder Cup heroes, is in danger of being fined a minimum of pounds 250 for dropping out and he did not help his cause by playing in the Midland Professional Championship earlier this week, an event he won. It is difficult to plead exhaustion after voluntarily competing in a minor event.

ALFRED DUNHILL BELGIAN OPEN (Royal Zoute Golf Club, Knokke-le-Zoute) First round (GB and Irl unless stated): 66 G Brand Jnr; D Williams. 67 R Willison; A Forsbrand (Swe); C Rocca (It); C Morton; S Ballesteros (Sp). 68 C Mason; J Hawkes (SA); P Broadhurst; N Faldo; J-M Canizares (Sp); G Evans; D Clarke; V Singh (Fiji); S Struver (Ger); M-A Jimenez (Sp). 69 J Hobday (SA); I Palmer (SA); G J Brand; D Frost (SA); D Feherty; M-A Martin (Sp). 70 H Clark; G J Turner (NZ); E Romero (Arg); W Westner (SA); T Pernice (US); B Janjic (Aus); G Levenson (SA); J Van de Velde (Fra); M Lanner (Swe); P Curry; S McAllister; J Parnevik (Swe); J Rivero (Sp); M Farry (Fra); J Coceres (Arg); K Waters; G Day (US). 71 S Field; M McNulty (Zim); R Karlsson (Swe); M James; B Lane; P Way; R Boxall; S Torrance; P Lawrie; M Roe; M Hallberg (Swe); R Goosen (SA). 72 *N Vanhootagem (Bel); M McLean; E Els (SA); I Woosnam; V Fernandez (Arg); A Murray; R Rafferty; C Montgomerie; J Quiros (Sp); P Fowler (Aus); T Johnstone (Zim); J Haeggman (Swe); R Claydon; P McGinley; B Langer (Ger); D Smyth; R Chapman. 73 F Nobilo (NZ); A Sorensen (Den); S Richardson; P Hall; A Sherborne; M Poxon; A Oldcorn; S Luna (Sp); R Winchester; D Silva (Por); P Walton; S Grappasonni (It); G Cali (It). 74 D J Russell; C Cassells; R Davis (Aus); R Drummond; F Lindgren (Swe); D Cooper; D Mijovic (Can); J-M Carriles (Sp); J Payne; S Lyle; M Pinero (Sp). Withdrawn: P Baker (83); P Price (78; bad hand). Retired (after 12 holes): R Allenby (Aus).

* denotes amateur.

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