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Ballesteros-Garcia rift continues in Spain

Spain's Sergio Garcia and U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen of South Africa will lead a 156-man field at the $1,530,000 (1,722,000 euros) Gran Canaria Spanish Open, which starts Thursday.

Seve Ballesteros' sports marketing company Amen Corner is promoting the event, and is paying appearance money to Garcia.

"A few players are receiving appearance money this week," Ballesteros said Wednesday at El Cortija Club de Campo in Las Palmas. "Including Sergio Garcia."

Last week's "Seve Trophy" team event was also promoted by Amen Corner and Garcia declined to play. As captain of the European team, Ballesteros accused his compatriot of demanding appearance money.

There is still a coolness between the two after the acrimony caused by Ballesteros' accusations.

"Seve will have to come and talk to me because he said things that are not correct," Garcia said Wednesday. "Then maybe we can get things straight."

Ballesteros saw things differently but left the door open for the next edition of the Seve Trophy.

"I'm the captain so it's not for me to explain. Everything I said was correct. He must give the explanation. But obviously he will be welcome if he qualifies next time," Ballesteros said.

This week's business is worth $255,000 (287,000 euros).

And apart from his hunger for victory, Garcia would be happy to bank that particular check in his quest to top the money lists on both sides of the Atlantic in 2002.

The 22-year-old Spaniard currently lies fifth in Europe and sixth on the U.S. Tour, where he trails Tiger Woods by $1,220,000.

"I think things are not going too badly," Garcia said. "I've had the best start to any year as a professional. I just have to keep going. The aim is to win both lists but I'd be happy to win one."

Garcia will take next week off before playing six tournaments in seven weeks on the U.S. Tour, starting with the Byron Nelson Classic May 9-12 and including the U.S. Open and title defenses at the Mastercard Colonial and the Buick Classic.

"It will be a pretty busy time for me over there," Garcia said.

Garcia's European schedule will be light.

"Of course I play the British Open, maybe once or twice over the summer, the Lancome Trophy, and also I'll try to come back for the Volvo Masters," he said.

He can expect tough opposition from Goosen in the European money race. The South African, who recently won at the BellSouth Classic and was the Masters runner-up, topped the European Order of Merit last year.

And he goes into this week heading the money here.

"It's been a great start and I'm definitely going to play enough to give myself a chance of defending my No. 1 spot. It's one of my goals," the South African said.

Goosen sees the El Cortija track, with its small, severely-contoured greens and variable wind as a test of iron-play, the clubs he felt failed him at crucial moments in Augusta.

"It's going to be hard getting close to the flags," Goosen said.

Paul Lawrie, Sam Torrance, Miguel Angel Jimenez, defending champion Robert Karlsson and Jarmo Sandelin are also in the field.


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