Peugeot Open de Espana
Peugeot Open de Espana
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Close call for Seve

Bjorn unable to defend Spanish title

Ryder Cup Dane Thomas Bjorn withdrew from his defence of the Peugeot Spanish Open in Barcelona.

Bjorn, due to play his first tournament since missing the halfway cut in the Masters, suffered a recurrence of an old neck injury getting out of bed for the eve-of-tournament pro-am.

The 28-year-old, a one-stroke winner over Jose Maria Olazabal and Australian Greg Chalmers on the same El Prat course last year, immediately flew home to Dubai to visit a chiropractor.

He hopes to be back in two or three weeks' time, certainly for the Benson and Hedges International at The Oxfordshire on May 13-16.

Meanwhile, Seve Ballesteros missed the pro-am with a left knee injury, but hopes to be able to tee off in tomorrow's first round.

Ballesteros, whose last tournament victory was the Spanish Open four years ago, said: "I'm falling apart. I've been having problems in my right knee for the last five months, but now all of a sudden I have the same problem with the left.

"A few days ago I was doing bicycle and weightlifting at home in Pedrena. I don't know what happened, but I can't squat or bend my knee.

"It hurts slightly, but continuously and it gets worse when swinging when I turn my weight through to the left.

"I played nine holes yesterday feeling uncomfortable and at the end of the day I was limping.

"I went to the physio and they treated me with ice and ultrasound. Then I had more ice at the hotel, but it was difficult to walk.

"I woke up at 4am this morning and the knee was swollen. Now a doctor has taken fluid off the knee and I'll go for more treatment tomorrow before the tee-off.

"I want to recover so that I can play tomorrow in a tournament that means so much to me."

Ballesteros is also suffering from a partially broken shoulder caused, he said, by the wear and tear of his 25 years on the European tour.

Olazabal is the firm favourite for the title following his Augusta triumph and the event also sees the professional debut of fellow Spaniard Sergio Garcia, the 19-year-old who was top amateur in the Masters.