Golf: Evans the slowcoach unhappy at being fined: Ballesteros in grave danger of missing another half-way cut as leader's six-under-par start is submerged in controversy

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The Independent Online
IT WAS, Gary Evans said, a case of horses for courses. As far as officials were concerned the horse was on the slow side. In the Volvo PGA Championship at the same venue 12 months ago Evans, in his rookie year, had a couple of rounds of 66 and finished joint fourth. Yesterday, in the first round of the same tournament, he shot 66 and was he happy? He was furious. He has a pain in the wrist and another in his wallet.

Evans was at the top of the leaderboard at six under par and when he came off the 18th he was fined pounds 250 for slow play. 'Do they ever get their watches out for Faldo, Ballesteros or Langer?' the 24-year-old Evans asked. Wrong question. They do but do they fine them? Seve Ballesteros was warned about slow play in Dubai but was not fined.

Earlier this season Evans was fined pounds 100 for hitting two balls out of a bunker in a practice round at Valencia. John Paramor, the Tour's chief referee, imposed the punishment then and he did so again yesterday.

The irony of such a fine is that it should be made on a player who has taken the least number of strokes over the Burma Road. When Evans was walking down the 17th fairway he was told he was being timed. 'Do they tell Steve Davis to hurry up when he's on a 147 break?' Evans asked. 'They should look at other players. I do not regard myself as slow. It is quite unbelievable. The other two I was playing with are slower than me. I told Paramor what I thought of it. I think it's a clash of personalities.'

Evans, who has been known to frequent a Buddhist temple in Brighton (karma and relaxation), was with Peter Fowler and Glen Day. At the short 14th Evans hit it close to the flag and said he had to wait about 15 minutes before putting out. His group was told at the sixth to speed up. 'It might have been different,' Evans said, 'if there were players waiting behind us. It is all very trivial.' Evans' birdies (seven) and bogeys (one) became incidental as he vented his feelings. When he finished he stood at the back of the interview tent and listened - cursing under his breath - to Paramor's version of events.

'I'm sure,' Paramor said, 'that he won't be the last player to hate my guts.' Paramor said that when the group was warned, Fowler and Day responded, Evans did not. According to Paramor's stopwatch Evans took 59 seconds over his putt at the 17th (the limit is 40); spent 66 seconds making his drive on the 18th tee (limit 55), and 44 seconds for his second shot at the last (limit 40). 'I even gave him five seconds grace at the 18th when he put his glove on,' Paramor said. 'They finished 25 minutes behind schedule. We do not make exceptions for anyone. If I had not fined Gary I would not have been doing my job. I have not fallen out with him.' Evans was also critical of Paramor, riding in a buggy, crossing the 17th fairway in front of him.

Even if Evans wins the PGA - the first prize is pounds 116,660 - he will not play in the Ryder Cup in September. He has a problem with his left wrist. 'A small bone pops out and hits a nerve,' he said. 'It goes up my arm and feels like a red hot poker.' He will have an operation shortly and will miss most of the season.

Last year Evans only got into this tournament because of Nick Faldo's influence. Faldo made a phone call and Evans received a sponsor's invitation. Yesterday Faldo, who has won this event on four occasions, shot 71, one under par. Faldo, playing with Colin Montgomerie and Mark James, went round in 4hr 35min, 17 minutes over schedule. They were not fined.

Another slowcoach was Ballesteros but in his case he took so many strokes it was understandable. Ballesteros, who is having a wretched campaign, is in grave danger today of missing another halfway cut. On a course he ranks among his favourites he had eight bogeys in a round of 78, six over par and 12 strokes behind Evans. It was arguable as to which of the two had the longer face.

VOLVO PGA CHAMPIONSHIP (West Course, Wentworth): Leading first round scores (GB or Irl unless stated): 66 G Evans. 67 M Sunesson (Swe). 68 A Sherborne, D Mijovic (Can), R Rafferty, M James, D W Basson (SA), P O'Malley (Aus), M Hallberg (Swe). 69 S Ames (Tri), W Westner (SA), G Brand Jnr, P Baker, A Murray, H Clark, S Tinning (Den), S Torrance, J Spence. 70 B Langer (Ger), A Oldcorn, P-U Johansson (Swe), J Townsend (US), P Walton, J Coceres (Arg), J Haeggman (Swe), W Riley (Aus), J Parnevik (Swe), C Montgomerie, D Smyth, T Levet (Fr). 71 I Palmer (SA), J M Carriles (Sp), M Lanner (Swe), C Mason, M Mackenzie, G Levenson (SA), E Romero (Arg), O Sellberg (Swe), J Van de Velde (Fr), G Orr, M Poxon, M Davis, M Harwood (Aus), N Faldo, E Els (SA), M McLean. 72 J Payne, R Karlsson (Swe), I Woosnam, D Feherty, G Day (US), J Berendt (Arg), A Garrido (Sp), S Richardson, M A Martin (Sp), M Mouland, S Lyle, F Nobilo (NZ), M McNulty (Zim), S McAllister, G Cali (It). 73 J Higgins, R Claydon, P Mitchell, R Goosen (SA), S Field, P Fowler (Aus), F Lindgren (Swe), M Farry (Fr), M Roe, V Singh (Fiji), P Senior (Aus), G Turner (NZ), D Jones, G J Brand, H Baiocchi (SA), P Price, R Winchester. 74 R Boxall, R Chapman, M Pinero (Sp), D Gilford, D Clarke, A Sorensen (Den), G Clough, R Hartmann (US), S Luna (Sp), J M Olazabal (Sp), A Forsbrand (Swe), J Sewell, J Rivero (Sp), T Johnstone (Zim), P Curry, J Hawkes (SA), D J Russell, J Quiros (Sp). Selected: 75 P Way, P Lawrie, B Lane, T Jacklin, R Davis (Aus), B Gallacher. 77 D Cooper, P Broadhurst, C Rocca (It), B Barnes, C O'Connor Jnr. 78 S Ballesteros (Sp), M A Jimenez (Sp), R Drummond, J-M Canizares (Sp). 80 E Darcy. 82 P Oosterhuis.

(Photograph omitted)

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