Golf: Olazabal caught in a caddie trap: US Masters champion loses long-term mentor on eve of Spanish Open

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ALONG with the players in the pro-am tournament yesterday, the rumours were also doing the rounds. The word, on the eve of the Spanish Open in Madrid, was that one of the longest marriages in the game may have come to an end: that Jose-Maria Olazabal, the US Masters champion, and Dave Renwick, his caddie of eight years, had hit the rough.

Certainly Renwick will not be caddieing for Olazabal in the Spanish Open, a situation that will hardly provide ideal preparation for Olazabal who has never won the competition.

Olazabal would not comment on the situation yesterday, apart from to confirm that in Renwick's place, his clubs would be shouldered for the four days by Sergio Gomez, his manager. Gomez, in turn, said: 'I have nothing to do with his relationship with his caddie. But this does not mean that their partnership is finished.'

Other regular caddies speculated yesterday on a money dispute between the two after the Masters victory. It was at Augusta, on the 15th hole of his final round, that Olazabal had to tell Renwick to keep calm.

Seve Ballesteros, Olazabal's friend and compatriot, believes that the caddie argument is not a crisis, and yesterday was tipping Olazabal to win the tournament. 'I think he can take the pressure,' he said. 'Jose-Maria is in very good form and I think he can win this week.'

Ballesteros is himself in good touch, too: his best form for two years having won the Benson and Hedges Open at St Mellion last week. Yesterday, in the pro-am, he shot a three-under-par 69 and was afterwards talking up his own chances. 'I have won two tournaments in a row quite a few times,' he said, 'and in 1986 I set a European tour record of four successive victories. I also won six tournaments in a row worldwide in 1978, and though I am not so consistent as I was 10 years ago, I have the confidence to win again.'

Ballesteros has won the Spanish Open twice, in 1981 and 1985, and he was runner-up in 1991 when he lost after a seven-hole play-off with Argentina's

Eduardo Romero