Golf: Past glory is food for thought as Ballesteros faces big chill

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The Independent Online
SEVE BALLESTEROS has breakfast with Frost this morning and for the first time in a long time in the Toyota World Match Play Championship there are grave doubts as to whether the Spaniard will still be around to enjoy dinner. 'My game is still not as good as it could be,' Ballesteros admitted. 'I don't know what the problem is. The ball just doesn't go straight.'

In the first round, over 36 holes of the West Course, Ballesteros plays the extraordinarily successful David Frost, who possibly has the game to become the first South African to win this championship since Gary Player 20 years ago. Frost has won everything but a major championship and four years ago he took Nick Faldo, the eventual winner, to the 38th hole. 'With a swing like that,' Faldo said of Frost, 'he could go on forever.'

Ballesteros has won the World Match Play five times but the odds on him making it six are stacked against him. Should he get past Frost he meets Ian Woosnam in the second round.

Peter Baker, who rounded off a personal triumph in the Ryder Cup by defeating Corey Pavin in the singles, goes head to head against the slight American again. 'Somehow I thought I'd be drawn against him,' Baker said. 'There are a lot of magicians around.' At a pre-tournament party, Pavin suggested to Baker that they should have dinner together tonight. 'I don't think he realised that one of us would be very upset,' Baker said.

Tomorrow, Faldo, the defending champion, will play the winner of the match between John Daly and Steve Elkington. Both are making their debut at Wentworth and both are playing matchplay for the first time since they were at college. Elkington, who was tied third with Daly in the Masters six months ago, said: 'John is just going to go bang. I can't get caught up in that. I'm just going to play my own game.' Faldo expects to meet Elkington. 'I don't think the course will suit Daly's long game,' he said.

Daly carries one wood in his bag, the Killer Whale driver, and a variety of wedges. 'Balls will be hit to places they've never been hit to before,' Mark McCormack said. This time last week Wentworth was flooded. 'If somebody had offered me pounds 1m to play 18 holes I couldn't have done it,' Chris Kennedy, the course manager, said. Netting will be placed on the first five greens to protect them from frost. It is unlikely, however, to save Ballesteros.

FIRST-ROUND DRAW

0830 and 1300: S Elkington (Aus) v J Daly (US). Winner to play N Faldo (Eng).

0845 and 1315: D Frost (SA) v S Ballesteros (Sp). Winner to play I Woosnam (Wal).

0900 and 1330: C Pavin (US) v P Baker (Eng). Winner to play N Price (Zim).

0915 and 1345: C Montgomerie (Sco) v Y Mizumaki (Japan). Winner to play B Langer (Ger).

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