Roe on the attack over Masters slur

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The Independent Online

Mark Roe has rebuffed the suggestion that he "stormed" out of Augusta after missing the half-way cut in the US Masters last week.

The Sheffield player, in France for the Cannes Open starting at Royal Mougins today, is angry about speculation which implied he might not be invited back to the Masters following comments he made about the course.

"I didn't storm out at all," said Roe, who had rounds of 74 and 79 on his debut in the event. "What I did say was that I didn't put the course in my top 20. It's too short for that and the only way they have to defend it is to trick up the greens. But I loved the place. The atmosphere is terrific and I had a great week."

Roe was level-par after 16 holes of the first round, but then had a double- bogey at the 17th and the following day, needing a 72 to survive, ran into a succession of problems. They do not appear to have followed him back to Europe, however, as the 33-year-old shot a seven-under-par 64 in yesterday's pro-am curtain-raiser.

If ever a player urgently needed a return to form it is Roe. He has missed the cut in 11 of his last 13 tournaments, a run going back to the Open last July. That record can partly be put down to the break-up of his marriage. The 1994 French Open champion revealed last month that he had considered suicide.

Only three of the 12 Europeans who were at Augusta have flown to Cannes - and, like Roe, David Gilford and Costantino Rocca, also missed the cut. Gilford's early exit was the more surprising since he matched Nick Faldo's opening round of 69. Whereas Faldo added a 67 and went on to record his remarkable victory, Gilford returned a second round of 78.

"I started bogey-bogey and just couldn't get back into it," said the 30-year-old, who is looking for his first victory since the 1994 European Open.

The drama of Faldo's triumph over Greg Norman may prove to be a tough act to follow when the Tour resumes after a fortnight's break. But Peter Baker, heralded as the heir apparent to Faldo when he burst on to the scene a decade ago, has been inspired enough by what happened to set himself a fresh target for the season.

"Everybody says their goal for the year is to win one tournament. Well, what's wrong with saying you want to win eight?" the 28-year-old said. "It seems like a nice number."

Baker beat Faldo with a play-off eagle at the 1988 Benson and Hedges International and Faldo himself said at the time: "This is the star we've been waiting for." Only in 1993 did the Wolverhampton player live up to that billing. He won twice and was an outstanding performer at the Ryder Cup at The Belfry. But he has not lifted a trophy since.

"I don't think that what Faldo said has been a burden for me to carry," he said. "This is my 10th year on Tour and hopefully I've still got at least another 10 to come. I'm still very ambitious."