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Golf: German Masters: Referee upsets dawdling Ballesteros

Four days following the euphoria of captaining the winning Ryder Cup team, Seve Ballesteros launched a scalding attack on the referee, Tony Gray, after being warned for slow play at the German Masters in Berlin yesterday.

Ballesteros, who evidently believes there is a vendetta against him, was warned after taking 55 seconds over a five-foot putt on the 16th green. "I was very happy until the referee arrived," he snapped later.

"Ken Schofield [the Tour executive director] must review some of the people who are here to referee. Tony Gray, maybe he is not qualified to be a referee. Perhaps he should do something else."

As Gray is probably the most experienced referee on the PGA European Tour it was an unwise statement, but Ballesteros added: "I have this five- foot putt and first a cameraman upsets me, then someone moves so I back off.

"Then the referee comes up to me on the next tee and warns me. Always something happens to cause me to lose my momentum. The referee said I took extra time. It's plain stupidity. I'm fed up. Maybe I have to play somewhere else."

Ballesteros is convinced he is not a slow player but Bernhard Langer, who shares the first-day lead with David Howell and Martin Gates with a four under par 68, was highly critical of his Ryder Cup captain.

Langer, considered one of the slower players on the Tour, was playing behind Ballesteros. He said: "They were very slow. We had to wait on almost every shot from the second hole onwards. Only on the last three holes we did not have to wait and perhaps that was because they had been warned."

Under rules introduced two weeks ago players no longer have to be told they are being timed for slow play and the tournament director, David Probyn, defended Gray.

"We had the clock on Seve's group from the 14th hole," he said. "They were 30 minutes over schedule and one-and-a-half holes behind the group ahead of them. They were offending against the pace of play."