Golf: Seve's work spoils the fun

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The Independent Online
LEE WESTWOOD yesterday likened a game of golf here to a visit to the dentist's chair. However, if he was waiting for an apology from Seve Ballesteros, the man responsible for causing him pain in the opening round of the Canon European Masters, it was not forthcoming.

Ballesteros has redesigned the course and, despite an opening 78, the Spaniard is perfectly happy with what he has done. In contrast, Westwood's two-under-par 69 left him only three behind the American Tom Gillis in the race for the pounds 150,000 first prize, yet he said afterwards: "This week used be good fun, but on the course now it's like having your teeth pulled out.

"In my opinion it's not a better course. It's like the US Open this year, with the balls running off the greens. I didn't like Pinehurst. I just don't think it's fair, and it makes you aim away from flags - which is very boring golf.

"I preferred it here when you turned up and had to shoot 24 under to win. The greens were soft, and everything gathered to the hole. I'm not a great believer in greens that filter off."

Westwood was not alone in his criticism of the upturned greens, but when tackled on the issue Ballesteros, who infuriated Colin Montgomerie with his change to Valderrama's 17th hole, fired back: "I'm not interested in the comments of other players just because of the mood they are in at the moment. My brief was to build a good course, not to raise the scores, and I think the people here in Crans must be very proud because I think they have a great course."

Westwood was the best of the three Ryder Cup men playing as Darren Clarke and Miguel Angel Jimenez both fell back from three under to one under.

Gillis, a lowly 168th on the Order of Merit with less than pounds 15,000 all year, holds a two-stroke lead over Yorkshire's Stephen Field, Francisco Cea of Sapin and Angel Cabrera of Argentina.

Gillis was only two under with three to play but then achieved the rare feat of back-to-back twos. On the 319-yard seventh - his 16th - which is driveable in the rarefied air, the 31-year-old from Michigan gave himself a 15-foot eagle chance and made it, and he added a 20-foot birdie on the short eighth.

Only nine of the field of 156 broke 70. Nick Faldo, was two over par after three holes but fought back for a level-par 71, while Ballesteros did not even finish the leading member of his family. His 18-year-old nephew Raul, still an amateur and making his European tour debut beat him by two strokes with a five-over 76.

Another amateur, Zane Scotland, the 17-year-old from Surrey who in July at Carnoustie became one of the youngest ever players to appear in The Open, returned 73, in which he matched Gillis's eagle two on the seventh.

Scores, Digest, page 27