Golf: Brand leader

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The Independent Online

Brand leader

The caddie who played Sancho Panza to Seve Ballesteros's Don Quixote for four years hopes to thwart his former master's tilt at a 55th European tour title today, writes Paul Trow in Madrid. Billy Foster, who ended his long and often profitable association with Ballesteros at the Masters last month, will be more than just an interested spectator in the final round of the Peugeot Spanish Open at Club de Campo - he will also be carrying the bag of the tournament leader, Gordon Brand Jnr. Ballesteros, who has twice won his country's premier Championship, will play alongside Brand at the end of the field after returning a six-under-par 66 yesterday for a three-round total of 203, 13 under. Brand, a Scot with a Bristolian accent, went one better with a bogey-less seven-birdie 65 which put him on 202, and in pole position to claim the winner's prize of pounds 91,660, of which Foster would receive a generous slice. After a quiet season, Brand's form has dramatically improved since he teamed up recently with Foster. "He's one of the two best caddies I've ever had," the 14-year tour veteran said. "I'd forgotten how good he is." Ballesteros, who claims the split with Foster was amicable despite rumours to the contrary, has had a modest year by his standards apart from winning the Perrier Paris Fourball with Jose Maria Olazabal three weeks ago. After yesterday's round, he insisted he had not played well despite squeezing eight birdies out of the picturesque parkland course. "To tell you the truth, my confidence is not so good," he said. "But for the last 20 years I've won 85 tournaments and I won a lot of them without confidence. I learnt a long time ago that when you don't feel good you have to play with what you've got. But Gordon Brand is a great player. Nowadays, there are no bad players on the tour, just good players and very good players."