Golf: Roe reveals that he was close to suicide

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Golf

TIM GLOVER

reports from Rabat

Mark Roe, who has a reputation as an extrovert on the European Tour, yesterday revealed that he came close to committing suicide following the break-up of his marriage. He sat in the loft of his home and placed a shotgun in his mouth. "I'd got to the point where I didn't want to live any more," Roe said.

He released the safety catch on the gun and spent five minutes with his finger on the trigger before deciding that "this was pathetic". Roe's 16-year relationship with his wife, Jane, ended in divorce after he had met Julia Morris, an employee of the International Management Group. "Everybody is different," Roe said. "Barry Lane, Nick Faldo and David Feherty were involved in marriage break-ups yet Barry had the best season of his life. If somebody had ever suggested that I would think of taking my own life I'd have laughed at them."

Roe, 34, from Sheffield, said he was making a fresh start and wanted to get the story off his chest. "I've always been a very emotional person who wears his heart on his sleeve. I'm rebuilding my life. I'm still putting the jigsaw together." Roe, who has moved into a cottage in Castleton in Derbyshire with Ms Morris, has won pounds 1.3m in a successful career on the European Tour. Last season he slumped from ninth to 126th but finished 13th in the US Open - the leading European - and earned a place in the Masters at Augusta National next month. He was fined pounds 2,000 last summer for unprofessional conduct when, at a tournament in Sweden, he knocked a six-inch putt 20 yards off the green during a round of 94. He was also fined for pouring a bowl of spaghetti over the head of fellow professional Russell Claydon at a Paris restaurant.

Yesterday Roe shot 79 in the first round of the Moroccan Open but he was not in a frame of mind to telephone the Samaritans. "If I'd scored that 12 months ago I'd have gone home," Roe said. "I'm going to stay out here and work on my game." He added that he has disposed of the gun.

Meanwhile, Europe's Ryder Cup captain found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. Most people were thinking about cleaning their teeth when Seve Ballesteros teed off at 7.45am. The Comeback drew a gallery of three people and they were rewarded with a round of 78, six over par.

"I don't want to talk about my swing any more," Ballesteros said. "I was hitting it all over the place. It's the same story all over again." When Ballesteros, fresh from a five-month sabbatical, entered the Moroccan Open the event was scheduled for Agadir. It was switched to the Royal Dar es Salaam here after Agadir took more rain than Manchester when Old Trafford is about to host a Test match.

The trouble is that Dar es Salaam, which was designed by the American Robert Trent Jones, is no place for those who are seeking recuperation. At 7,362 yards it is a long slog and, with cork trees lining the fairways, accuracy, as well as length, is of paramount importance. Ballesteros was short and wayward. "I hit only five greens in regulation," he said. "I've no confidence at all."

Ballesteros, who had a solitary birdie, will have to find something today if he is to stand a chance of making the half-way cut. For inspiration he could do worse than to look at the chameleon-like performance of the Frenchman Marc Farry. When it comes to lacking confidence, nobody was lower than Farry. He missed the first four cuts of the season and was disqualified in Durban where he failed to receive a wake-up call and missed his tee time.

So far this year his expenditure is pounds 8,000, income zero and the result, as Mr Micawber would have observed, is misery. "It's been a nightmare," Farry said. "I can't stand the heat so I suffered in Singapore, Australia and South Africa but I had to take the gamble of playing in Morocco to try and make some money."

In a practice round on Wednesday his game was awful. "I was duck-hooking everything and duffing shots so I worked for a couple of hours on my swing." Yesterday he shot 69, one stroke off the lead held by the Swede Peter Hedblom. Farry, though, remains unconvinced that having turned into a prince one day, he will not reappear as a frog the next. "I don't know if my swing will hold up under pressure," he said.

MOROCCAN OPEN (Royal Dar es Salaam, Rabat) Leading first-round scores (GB or Irl unless stated): 68 P Hedblom (Swe); 69 M Farry (Fr), J Gronhagen, R Russell; 70 A Cejka (Ger), C Rocca (It), C Suneson, J McHenry, R Coles, J Coceres (Arg), T Johnstone (Zim); 71 M Tunnicliff, W Westner (SA), H Clark, M Mouland, E Bolognesi (It), A Forsbrand (Swe), P Mitchell; 72 E Romero (Arg), L Westwood, O Rojahn (Nor), S Grappasonni (It), A Collison, I Woosnam, M Besanceney (Fr), D J Russell, M Pinero (Sp), D Smyth, D Clarke, S Bottomley, F Howley, P Harrington, P Simpson; 73 P Haugsrud (Nor), S Richardson, S Torrance, G Levenson (SA), N Briggs, B May (US), B Pappas (SA), P Walton, R Karlsson (Swe), G J Brand, S Luna (Sp), G Ralph, E Giraud (Fr), P Nyman (Swe); 74 B Marchbank, S Watson, J Heggarty, M Mackenzie, G Brand Jnr, R Wessels (SA), R Chapman, R Muntz (Neth), M Wills, P Sjoland (Swe), G Chalmers (Aus), M Litton, C Cassells, T Gogele (Ger), A Langenaeken (Bel), O Sellberg (Swe), N Fasth (Swe), F Valera (Spain), E Darcy, S Tinning (Den), D A Russell, T Planchin (Fr), J Mellor, M Brier (Aut), L White, J Hawksworth. Selected: 75 D Gilford, M James; 78 S Ballesteros (Sp); 79 M Roe.

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