Golf: Ballesteros objects to European expansion

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The Independent Online
SEVE BALLESTEROS, who recently celebrated the birth of his second son, took a paternal look at the European PGA Tour yesterday only to decide it was too long and should confine itself to events within the continent's geographical boundaries.

On the eve of the Piaget Belgian Open at Royal Zoute, Knokke, the 35-year-old Spaniard, who has missed the cut in three of his last four tournaments, recalled: 'In the middle 1970s, the Tour started after the US Masters in April and finished in the middle of September. Now it is a one-year schedule. I think this is wrong. We need quality, not quantity.

'European tournaments should only be played in Europe, yet next year we have events in South Africa, Dubai and Singapore. It is not Europe any more. Before it was like a group of friends; now it is big business and I do not like it.

'In America, they have such a long schedule they do not have stars any more. Europe is becoming more like the US Tour, so that is why I believe it will be the death of the European superstars and a shorter golfing life for the players.'

This year the Tour began with the Johnny Walker Asian Classic in Thailand on 30 January and ends with the Volvo Masters at Valderrama in Sotogrande on 1 November. Next year there will be a record 46 events, beginning on 14 January in Madeira and ending with the Volvo Masters on 7 November.

Meanwhile Nick Faldo needs to finish only 49th (worth just under pounds 3,000) to beat Ian Woosnam's two-year-old European earnings record of pounds 574,166 for a season. In 13 Tour events this year, Faldo has 11 times finished in the top 10 with a worst placing of equal 21st.

Apart from the out-of-form Ballesteros, his rivals for the pounds 100,000 first prize include Woosnam, Sandy Lyle and Bernhard Langer.

----------------------------------------------------------------- CARD OF THE COURSE ----------------------------------------------------------------- Hole Yards Par Hole Yards Par 1st 420 4 10th 384 4 2nd 395 4 11th 209 3 3rd 148 3 12th 531 5 4th 417 4 13th 446 4 5th 470 4 14th 390 4 6th 415 4 15th 550 5 7th 386 4 16th 183 3 8th 207 3 17th 546 5 9th 402 4 18th 383 4 Out: 3260 34 In: 3622 37 Total: 6882 71 -----------------------------------------------------------------