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Ballesteros trying to avoid fading away

Most golfers would understand, if not condone, the loss of temper at the Spanish Open which cost Seve Ballesteros a fine from the European Tour last week. Indeed, after years of almost total frustration, itís a wonder the winner of five majors hasnít demolished acres of forest during his travels, never mind the solitary ice-plant which felt his wrath in Valencia.

A charismatic individual who did more than any other player to breathe new life into European golf, Seveís game has been in such cruel decline over the past five years his fortunes have been almost too painful to monitor.

What now seems likely to be the last of his 48 wins on the European Tour, the 1995 Spanish Open, has been followed by a plunge into the abyss. To be sure, there was temporary relief in that unexpected matchplay win over Colin Montgomerie in the trophy named after him at Sunningdale last year. But in stroke play, the picture is almost entirely bleak. He was 108th in the Order of Merit in 1998, 143rd in 1999 and 190th last year. Seve, 44, hasnít made the cut in a major championship since the 1996 Masters.

Having completed only 72 holes once in six tournaments so far this season (and carded just one competitive round in 14 below 70), itís hard to fathom what reservoirs of resilience this champion has left to draw on.

Seve Ballesteros trying to avoid fading from the world of golf. Allsport.

After 27 years as a professional without so much as a blemish on his record, Seveís violent hacking of that ice-plant after a wayward tee-shot at El Soler was visible evidence that the great man may be close to the end of his tether.

Ballesteros, though, has clung to an inner belief that he can make things right again. In this goal heís been sustained by the affection of all those who would dearly love to see Seve savour an Indian summer before he retires.

It would be wonderful if he fought back and proved everyone wrong. But for now, Seve resembles a burnt-out case.









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