Golf: 'I was offered dollars 1m' claims Seve: Ballesteros says he was made offer to back Valderrama for Ryder Cup

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The Independent Online
IN AN extraordinary allegation Seve Ballesteros yesterday said that Valderrama, the golf club bidding to host the Ryder Cup in Spain in 1997, made him a dollars 1m offer to secure his support.

In a statement from Madrid, where he played in the Spanish Open, Ballesteros said: 'Last year I received a letter offering me approximately dollars 1m to support Valderrama. This sum would be made up by selling plots of land and giving me a percentage of the green fees. I want only what is best for Spain.

'Valderrama is the most elitist club in the world, even more elitist than Augusta. It is not a suitable venue. The technical commission which advises the Ryder Cup committee thought Valderrama did not have the minimum facilities that are necessary to stage the Ryder Cup and that is one of the reasons why I recently left the Ryder Cup committee.'

Ballesteros, who replaced Tony Jacklin on the committee last December, attended one meeting before resigning on the eve of the Benson & Hedges International at St Mellion just over a week ago. He has been promoting Novo Sancti Petri, a public course near Cadiz, which he designed. He emphasised that it was owned by a Spanish company.

Valderrama, owned by the Bolivian billionaire Jaime Ortiz-Patino, has around 300 members. The highly-rated course in Sotogrande - it hosts the Volvo Masters each year - was the first to bid for the Ryder Cup once the decision was taken to hold the biennial match against the United States event in Spain.

I understand that from an original list of seven contenders, a shortlist of three has been drawn up and that includes Valderrama and La Moraleja. Novo Sancti Petri is not among them. The final decision is expected to be announced at Wentworth a week on Wednesday.

The meeting will be chaired by Neil Coles who yesterday said of Ballesteros's statement: 'That's Seve isn't it? I can't imagine Mr Patino doing anything like that. It would be right out of character. When you're involved in designing courses you have strong opinions. I think Seve's gone overboard on Novo Sancti Petri. Maybe the offer he's referring to is in lieu of work he's done for Valderrama.'

Last year Ballesteros helped Patino re-design Valderrama's 17th hole. In his statement Ballesteros said he spoke to Bernard Gallacher, whom he is expected to succeed as Ryder Cup captain in 1997. 'I was very disappointed. I got the impression that Valderrama would definitely be the venue.'

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