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Ballesteros makes return to European Tour

Severiano Ballesteros has resisted a call by Denmark's Thomas Bjorn for the Spaniard to make a full return to the European Tour, saying on Wednesday he intends to play only four more events on this season's schedule.

The five-times major champion is back in action at this week's BMW International Open, his first tournament since being fined at the Volvo PGA Championship in May for an outburst he made against European Tour officials at the Italian Open.

"I'm playing this week, next week in Switzerland, then Madrid and the Seve Trophy (team competition), and that's it," Ballesteros said as he prepared for Thursday's first round at the Nord Eichenried course.

"I will just play as I feel. I have a great record over the years, and I'm grateful to the game, but I have nothing else to prove.

"There aren't many professions where you have the freedom to do as you like.

"At the moment, I need to practise a little bit to play against Colin (Montgomerie) in the Seve Trophy (in November) because he's a good player."

Earlier on Wednesday, Bjorn happily recalled playing with Ballesteros in 1998 when the Spaniard last finished in the top 10 at a European Tour event.

"It's fantastic to see him here (in Munich) and I hope he's sorted all the things he needed to and he'll come out and compete," said the Dane, who will compete in Ballesteros's European team to take on Britain and Ireland for the Seve Trophy.

"I've had this discussion with a lot of people of late and there are a lot of them who've not seen him play well and don't understand what he's done for the game in Europe.

"It would be nice to see him play well again, just to put it to them."

Ballesteros, whose game has deteriorated enough in the last six years for him to plummet off the bottom of the official world rankings, refused to comment on the repercussions of his fine and reprimand by the European Tour in May.

At the Italian Open, he refused to accept a one-stroke penalty for slow play at Gardagolf, rubbed it from his score card and was subsequently disqualified.

He then launched a tirade, accusing the tour of victimising him and three other players because they had asked for an independent audit of the organisation's accounts 18 months earlier.

Three weeks later, the 46-year-old Spaniard was fined an unspecified amount by the tour, and then pulled out of the Volvo PGA Championship at Wentworth in late May because of illness.

Since then, he has confined himself to "enjoying time with my family".


 

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