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Ballesteros outburst after disqualification

Severiano Ballesteros launched a furious attack on European Tour executive director Ken Schofield on Saturday after being disqualified from the Italian Open third round.

"Ken Schofield is a dictator and drives the tour the way he wants," said the five-times major champion.

Ballesteros incurred time faults at the 14th and 16th tees at Brescia, having made his second cut of the year.

The second bad time, which came after Ballesteros changed his ball before teeing off on the long 16th, meant the Spaniard incurred a one-shot penalty. His birdie at the hole on the way to a round of three-over-par 75 had to be changed to a par five and a round of 76.

But when he was warned by European tour chief referee John Paramor at recording, Ballesteros refused to change the four for a five. Paramor then disqualified him.

Tour officials said afterwards they had every confidence in Paramor.

The disqualification came six weeks after Ballesteros and Madeira Island Open tournament director Jose Maria Zamora clashed after the player accused an official of harassment and rudeness.

At a news conference on Saturday, Ballesteros attacked Paramor, Schofield and the European Tour establishment as a whole, recalling 2000 when he, Jose Maria Olazabal, Bernhard Langer and Nick Faldo asked for the tour's finances to be investigated.

Ballesteros said their insistence on the investigation, which led to the announcement of an independent audit by the tour, had begun a "war" between the four and the tour's top officials.

He accused the tour of "picking on" him and Olazabal in particular and said his disqualification was another episode in a campaign against him and the other players.

"Olazabal, Langer, Faldo and myself are against the system because we disagree with the way the tour is being run," he said. "The situation with the tour and IMG (the tour's business partners International Management Group) is nearly like the Mafia. They share 50-50.

"The way they invest money, nobody knows what is going. The tour should be independent. So when somebody is against the system, they are the number one enemy. Ken Schofield does not speak to Jose Maria Olazabal any more.

"And if you step out of line like myself, Olazabal, Faldo and Langer, they start picking on you. It was only a small official in Madeira -- this time it is the big John Paramor saying 'I'm going to show Seve just what we are capable of doing'.

"To have the tour's chief referee following you from the fourth hole is incredible, especially when the group behind never waited on a single shot. When we finished on the 18th they were still on the 17th green."

Speaking on behalf of the European Tour, Mitchell Platts, director of corporated affairs and public relations said: "We have every confidence in John Paramor, and we know he has the full confidence of the tour's tournament committee.

"John is acknowledged, together with all the other senior rules officials with the European Tour, to be amongst the leading rules officials, not just in golf but in sport around the world.

"He is very good at implementing the rules and the requirements of the players.

"John and all the tour's rules officials, are trying very hard at all times to monitor and effect a policy that is quite clearly the players' own policy."

Ballesteros's playing partner, Frenchman Gregory Havret, who did not incur any warnings, said they had done their best to keep good time.

"On the second hole we lost some time and then the group in front of us were unreachable. We really tried to catch them, especially with Mr Paramor behind us, but it was not possible. We didn't run between shots but we really tried to do something about it."

 

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