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Schofield speaks out on Ballesteros issue

European tour executive director Ken Schofield has dismissed accusations from Seve Ballesteros that the Spaniard is being victimized.

Ballesteros was disqualified from the Italian Open last weekend for refusing to accept a one-shot penalty for slow play during his third round.

The 46-year-old five-time major champion afterwards branded Schofield "a dictator" and described the European tour and its business partners as being "nearly like the Mafia".

He said he was being picked on for his part in the so-called "Gang of Four" -- himself, Jose Maria Olazabal, Nick Faldo and Bernhard Langer -- who insisted on the tour's books getting an independent audit 18 months ago.

Speaking to BBC Radio Five Live on Sunday, Schofield said: "The idea that we would victimize any single player, far less Seve, or a Bernhard Langer, a Nick Faldo, or a Jose Maria Olazabal is actually unthinkable.

"Many of the comments Seve made in Italy were born out of frustration ... frustration of a very sad decline, one that's now entering its seventh year with only one top-10 finish.

"For a player of Seve's standing it must take him to the brink in terms of frustration. I think that played a large part in his tirade in Italy."

Ballesteros incurred time faults at the 14th and 16th tees at the tournament in Brescia, incurring a one-shot penalty. His 3-over-par round of 75 had to be changed to a 76, which Ballesteros refused to accept and he was disqualified.

"Changing his scorecard is the important issue in this," added Schofield. "The other things really are a sideshow.

"The sadness of what happened is that here we have a great player who refused to take the referee's decision and our sport zealously guards the referee's decision being final."

Despite his accusations, Schofield likened Ballesteros to American great Arnold Palmer.

"The record of Severiano will remain important throughout the annals of golf. Seve is Europe's Arnold Palmer," he said.

 

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