Ballesteros is riled by Garcia

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The Independent Online

Seve Ballesteros criticised Sergio Garcia yesterday for demanding appearance money to play in next month's Seve Trophy at Druid's Glen in Ireland.

Garcia, the world No 5, has said he is unavailable to compete in the Ryder Cup-style contest between teams from Great Britain and Ireland and continental Europe, citing commitments to play in the corresponding USPGA Tour event at Hilton Head. But Ballesteros said his fellow Spaniard had asked for appearance money to play in the event, on top of the €90,000 (£56,000) each player on the losing team is already guaranteed.

"Garcia is the only one that does not want to play. I'm a little bit disappointed obviously and even more that he asked for appearance money," said Ballesteros, who captained the European side to a narrow victory in the inaugural event in 2000. "He said he could not play because he is committed for the tournament in the same week, but at the same time his manager asked for appearance money and there is none for anybody.

"If he does not want to play it is up to him. The tournament will continue and no-one is bigger than the tournament."

Asked if it was a problem with Garcia or his manager, Ballesteros added: "I think the problem is the player. He makes all the final decisions. I don't think it's fair to ask for appearance money. It is only three days of competition and the losing team members get €90,000. It's not fair for the rest of the members of the team and the people in Ireland."

The appearance of Garcia would have been a major attraction at the event from 19-21 April, but Ballesteros made it clear he would not make an exception for any player, and praised the commitment of Jose Maria Olazabal, who like Garcia also spends much of his time on the US Tour.

Elsewhere, Des Smyth returns today to the Maderia Open course where he made European Tour history.

Smyth became the oldest winner in the tour's history when he won at Santo da Serra 12 months ago, carding a final-round 66 for a two-shot victory over England's John Bickerton.

The veteran Irishman was in his 28th consecutive season and aged 48 years and 34 days when he sank the winning putt, surpassing the previous record held by Neil Coles who was 48 years and 14 days old when he won the 1982 Sanyo Open.