Golf: Good times roll again for Seve

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The Independent Online
A COUPLE of former caddies, who would have been delighted to receive a peseta note when lugging bags around Spain 20 years ago, exchanged shots yesterday which could be measured in thousands of pounds. The trouble is they were so pernickety they were fined for slow play.

The Volvo Masters at Valderrama is worth a total of pounds 1.25m, and Seve Ballesteros and Miguel Angel Jimenez are in line for a massive pay day today. However, what concerned them last night was that they both have to fork out pounds 500. Paired together, Ballesteros and Jimenez were warned by John Paramor, the tournament director, to get a move on. This happened at the 8th and 11th. By the time they'd got to the 14th, the stopwatch was put on them and the fines were imposed after they had clocked up five breaches of pace-of-play regulations.

Ballesteros and Jimenez, the penultimate pair in yesterday's third round, fell two holes behind the players in front and were 35 minutes slower than they should have been.

Ballesteros, who was warned for slow play in Germany two months ago, said: 'I knew it was going to happen. They've been after me and this was their last chance to get me. I'm very disappointed. The Spanish referee who was in charge of our match had no idea.'

However, Langer saw it differently. 'They slowed us down on the whole of the front nine holes and because of that officials put the clock on us,' the German said. 'That upset my rhythm. They should not be fined that sort of money. It means nothing to Seve. He's been there before. He just doesn't change. They should time them, fine them, take shots off them and then disqualify them.'

Ballesteros has hardly been out of the frame in the last couple of months and yesterday he shot 68. Should he win here today, he will receive pounds 125,000 plus a bonus of pounds 83,000.

Last year Ballesteros was playing so badly he could not be bothered to compete here. Now you can't keep him off a golf course, even if this is one that earlier in the summer he vehemently opposed as a Ryder Cup venue.

Ballesteros began the day three strokes behind Langer, two behind the defending champion Montgomerie and one behind Jimenez. They're still on the leaderboard but Ballesteros has overtaken them all. He shot 68 yesterday to go from six under par to nine under and he takes a two-stroke lead into the final round today.

His closest challengers are Big Monty and Langer, both of whom were positively erratic compared to the rejuvenated Spaniard. Ballesteros had three birdies, no bogeys. Montgomerie, who as the uncatchable leader of the Order of Merit is assured of pounds 125,000 whatever he does today, had six bogeys and five birdies. Langer's round was even more bizarre.

On Friday, Langer did everything but walk on water. He had 11 threes in a course-record score of 62. In the third round he had two threes, neither of them birdies, and on the back nine he had eight fours and a five in a round of 73.