Ballesteros eats large helping of humble pie

"Very unfair," was how Severiano Ballesteros termed the headlines that screamed the Spaniard was "not impressed" by any of the golfers in the event that is not only named in his honour but that his company also happens to run, and he was keen to disabuse the obviously disgruntled competitors of the notion that he ever meant such a thing.

"Certain comments have hurt everybody involved in the Seve Trophy," he wrote, "and I feel hurt personally. I am sure the players will understand my position."

What his position was, however, when he announced to a crowded room that "I don't see any players who really impress me from either side of the Atlantic", or indeed that "Sergio Garcia is the only one who really has flashes of something special, but he's not playing on the European Tour", must have taken some explaining.

He had plenty of that to do, and it might need more than a few pages of humble foolscap to clear the fall-out that could still yet lead to a serious falling out. In private, two of the professionals were adamant that if that is what the six-time major winner really thought of them, they would not be taking part in January's inaugural staging of The Royal Trophy in Asia in which Ballesteros is to captain Europe. And even in public the anger was evident.

Thomas Björn, for one, said before venturing out for his singles: "There's 10 very good matches in prospect here today, featuring 20 very good players, no matter what Seve says."

Meanwhile, even more tellingly, there were rumblings emanating from within the European Tour, for whom Ballesteros' Amen Corner management company runs a few events. These include next month's Madrid Open in which the 48-year-old is due to make his long-awaited comeback from a back injury that has kept him out of competition for almost two years.

George O'Grady, the Tour's chief executive, said: "In our view we have some excellent players, but Seve is entitled to his opinion. The timing isn't great, though. Some of the players have taken the comments with a pinch of salt, while others have their own views."

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