Home success for Ballesteros

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The Independent Online
Despite having bogeys at each of the first three holes, Seve Ballesteros put in a storming finish to win the Peugeot Spanish Open for the third time in Madrid yesterday.

The Spaniard snatched three birdies in his last seven holes, including one at the final hole before a massed gallery, to gain his 55th European Tour victory - and 72nd world-wide - by two strokes.

The 38-year-old maestro finished with a score of 71 for a four-round aggregate of 274, 14 under par, and led home his fellow compatriots Jose Rivero and Ignacio Garrido, who were joint second on 276.

Peter Baker, the 27-year-old Wolverhampton player who hopes to make a late run for a Ryder Cup place, and the Scot, Gordon Brand Jnr, who had led overnight, finished joint fourth on 277, with the Englishman, Peter Mitchell, and the Argentinian, Eduardo Romero, sharing sixth place one shot further back.

Ballesteros had begun the day one shot behind Brand but after the first two holes was three behind. The thousands massing behind the ropes to watch their idol groaned in unison but Ballesteros birdied the fourth to turn in 38, two over par, at which point Rivero, Garrido, and Baker had all caught him and Brand, also out in 38, was still one ahead.

Brand, however, began to fade. Mitchell, who was also level with Ballesteros after 16 holes, ruined his chance with a double- bogey five at the short 17th.

Ballesteros birdied the 12th and 15th to move one shot ahead of the field and came to the last needing a par four for victory. Typically he was on in two and knocked in a five-foot putt for a birdie three.

No Spaniard had won this title since Ballesteros had the second of two previous victories in 1985. He had also won in 1981.

Asked how he had felt after dropping three shots in the first three holes, he said: "I told myself I had to make birdies at all the par-fives and I would be one under.

"Well, I got one at the fourth and missed it at the seventh so I said: `Make two birdies in the last nine and you can still win', and I got three."

Ballesteros is now 171,340 points ahead of his nearest rival - the Italian player, Costantino Rocca - in the Ryder Cup points table.

Scores, Sporting Digest, page 31