Ballesteros prepares to end self-imposed exile

Seve Ballesteros yesterday insisted he had never thought about retiring after ending his two-month exile from the game.

Ballesteros has not played since being disqualified from the Irish Open in June for signing for a wrong score after running up a 12 on the final hole in his first-round 89. The 45-year-old immediately pulled out of the Open at Muirfield, ending his run of 27 consecutive appearances, and speculation was rife that he was contemplating ending a career which has brought him five majors and more than 80 other victories worldwide.

However, as the Spaniard prepared for the £1.2m BMW International Open which starts here today, he insisted the thought of retirement had not crossed his mind. "I was just resting for a while, I did not think about retiring," said Ballesteros, who has made just one cut in the five tournaments he has played this season. "But a lot of people wrote to me, they thought that was it.

"It was a difficult and sad decision to miss the Open but I did not feel good. I thought it was better for me to stay and rest because I was not very comfortable. I was not doing well and I did not want to show up and suffer. I preferred to do what I did, I think it was the right decision.

"I enjoyed being with my family, swimming and fishing and playing golf with my kids. I have nothing to prove. I want to enjoy my golf and if I do, the rest will come.

"I can't control what people write about, I did not really care or pay much attention. I don't worry about what people think or say. I worry about me, I do what I feel is right to be happy."

Ballesteros received hundreds of letters from supporters and phone calls from fellow Spaniards Jose Maria Olazabal and Miguel Angel Jimenez urging him to carry on playing. "It was nice that they were all thinking about me, I really appreciated it," added Ballesteros, who used his time off to inspect two courses he is building near Madeira and San Roque.

John Daly returns to Germany to defend the title he won last year, as does the man he beat by a shot, Padraig Harrington.

"It's good to see Seve back," Harrington said. "He brings something to every tournament without a doubt. We would all like to see him playing well but he has to eventually sit back and realise he has nothing to prove. He has won five majors and who else is going to do that?"