Golf: Ballesteros' wild cards under wraps

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While Tom Kite agonised over his two Ryder Cup wild-card selections, only deciding last Sunday over dinner with his wife and vice-captain, his one consolation was that he was not Seve Ballesteros.

The question of how Europe's captain is going to squeeze three of his best players - Nick Faldo, Jose Maria Olazabal and Jesper Parnevik - into two positions has been vexing most people, including those likely to make up the team. But not Ballesteros. He has already made up his mind.

Ballesteros does not have to announce his final two until the 10 automatic places are filled at the end of next week's BMW International in Munich. Instead of waiting until the following Monday to reveal all, Ballesteros will wait only 45 minutes after the tournament finishes.

Ballesteros said he made up his mind prior to last week's US PGA, when Faldo and Olazabal missed the cut on 13 and 12 over par respectively. Unlike Faldo and Parnevik, Olazabal can still qualify and is playing in the Smurfit European Open, which starts today. With pounds 141,660 for the winner here and a first prize of pounds 125,000 in Munich, anyone down to 125th on the qualifying list can still make the team, mathematically speaking.

More realistically, it is the possibility of his countryman, who is 12th in the standings, making the team automatically that Ballesteros was clearly referring to when he said: "One thing is for sure, I expect the situation to change in the next two weeks.

"If the situation ends as it is right now, I have already made up my mind. And if the situation changes, I have made up my mind. It is a secret until 31 August. It is not a dilemma, it is very simple."

Asked whether he would be taking into account Faldo's performance in the World Series this week in Ohio, Ballesteros added: "Whatever happens, it is not going to make a difference." Having swapped his player's hat, the one he can't hit for toffee, for his captain's sombrero, Ballesteros was in much improved spirits. When probed further, he replied: "Do you think you are Columbo?"

Unless Ballesteros, who confirmed he will definitely not pick himself and named Miguel Angel Jimenez as his vice-captain, was all red herrings, there were enough clues for even Dumbo to work it out. What he would like is for Olazabal to qualify automatically, leaving him free to pick Faldo and Parnevik. If not, it could be Faldo and Ollie.

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