Seve Ballesteros, playing with the zest of his younger days, says he "will not feel guilty" if he wins his own money at the Canary Islands Open in Gran Canaria this week. This European Tour event is being promoted by the Spaniard's own company, Amen Corner, and Ballesteros, three shots ahead after shooting 68 and 69 in his first two rounds for a seven-under- par aggregate of 137, can hardly stop smiling.
The first prize is £41,660 and Ballesteros says with the straightest of faces: "It would be very nice to win my own money."
His only complaint after his second-round 69 was the colour of the greens. They have been sprayed reddish-purple by greenkeeping staff and Ballesteros, showing his improving knowledge of English terms, says: "It makes me see red when I look at the greens.
"When they paint the greens it is very nice for TV but not for players. It is sometimes difficult to read greens when they are green, but now they are red you often have to guess what will happen."
Ballesteros had no complaints about the large, excited gallery who tended to be noisy when he was about to play a shot. "I do not mind the crowd," he said. "I have dealt with this sort of thing since 1976."
For all his supposed putting problems, Ballesteros still managed to take single putts four times, snapped up five birdies and dropped only two shots: one at the eighth where he missed a seven-foot putt and another at the 12th where he took four to reach the green.
Ballesteros leads Paul Eales by three shots. He is another shot ahead of Gary Emerson, the Irishman Darren Clarke and the Swede Anders Forsbrand.
Eales, the joint first-round leader with Ballesteros, Philip Walton and Gary Orr, shot a second-round 72 with two birdies and one double-bogey intermingled with 15 pars.
"I hit the ball really well," said Eales, who is based at Royal Lytham and St Annes. "But I had real problems on the greens. I could never really tell the line or pace but managed to get round without three-putting so I was very pleased."
Eales will play with Ballesteros today and says: "It's a fantastic opportunity to learn from one of the all-time greats and I do not think I will be nervous."
His only bad hole came at the 231-yard eighth where he went through the green into a sandy waste with a four-wood, made a mess of his first chip back, chipped again then missed a three-foot putt to take five.
Orr quickly fell away and shot a three-over-par 75 but Walton had an even sadder tale. The 32-year-old Irishman was only one shot behind Ballesteros at six under par after seven holes.
But successive bogeys at the eighth and ninth, then successive double- bogeys at the 11th and 12th ruined his card and he finished with a 76, back at level par.
CANARY ISLANDS OPEN (Gran Canaria) Leading second-round scores (GB or Irl unless stated): 137 S Ballesteros (Sp) 68 69. 140 P Eales 68 72. 141 G Emerson 69 72; D Clarke 72 69; A Forsbrand (Swe) 72 69. 142 P Price 73 69; S Struver (Ger) 70 72. 143 C O'Connor Jnr 74 69; G Brand Jnr 71 72; S Luna (Sp) 72 71; G Orr 68 75; D Cooper 74 69; R Boxall 73 70. 144 D Smyth 75 69; P Linhart (Sp) 76 68; *O Sanchez (Sp) 71 73; J Arruti (Sp) 76 68; J Robson 72 72; B Marchbank 76 68; A Sorensen (Den) 72 72; S Tinning (Den) 72 72; R Karlsson (Swe) 69 75; J Spence 69 75; P Walton 68 76.