Another Ballesteros sets sights on title


Golf Seville Open: He talks like him, smiles like him, even hurts like him, and for two days Raul Ballesteros has played golf like his uncle Severiano.

Back problems have sidelined the six-times European number one but he would have been proud of the two 68s served up by his nephew in the Seville Open. They left the 23-year-old a stroke behind the little-known Argentinian pacemaker Cesar Monasterio and declaring: "Of course I'm thinking of winning."

The Cranleigh-educated six-footer uncannily possesses many of the matinee-idol mannerisms of Seve and he is even using his uncle's caddie Pedro Ramseyer.

"I've learned a lot from caddying for my uncle and it's a privilege to get so much good advice," he said. "I am sure he will be veryhappy for me.

"I don't feel any pressure because no one expects me to do anything special - I'm just a professional golfer who wants to play well every week.

"Like Seve I have hernias in both my shoulders. I had surgery on the right one in December and face the same operation on the left - my uncle and my father Baldomero have the problem. It's a family thing."

The sponsor's invitee, seeking a €167,500 win which would instantly earn him a Tour card, plays his golf Severiano-style. One of yesterday's six birdies came after he drove under a tree, then conjured a nine-iron "daisy-cutter" below the branches to seven feet.

Monasterio, in his rookie season in Europe at 40, did not touch a club during eight years spent delivering bottled water after his Buenos Aires club barred him from playing the course when he turned professional at 19.

Yesterday the man with seven Argentinian wins to his credit made eight birdies in a 67 to go nine under par on 135.

Gary Murphy is the best of the Irish challengers at three under par 141 after a second round of 71 with Peter Lawrie and Graeme McDowell just making the cut at one over par 145. Lawrie added a second round 74 and McDowell a 73 while Damien McGrane missed out on 147 despite a second round of 71.

Ricardo Gonzalez set the morning target of eight-under-par 136 with a six-under 66, before Monasterio went past him with his 67 to go with his opening 68.

"Keeping the card is very important because I have started late in my career in Europe," said Monasterio, looking now to better his best finish on the full tour of eighth last year in the St Omer Open in France.

Meanwhile, Jean van de Velde, runner-up in the British Open five years ago, lost his European Tour card yesterday.

Granted seven starts this season to keep his place on the circuit following two knee operations, van de Velde missed the halfway cut after a second round 77. He had needed to finish in the top 35 to earn enough to stay exempt, but will now have to seek special invitations from sponsors.

"I will see how many people I have upset over the years," said the Frenchman.

"If not, it's early retirement."

The 37-year-old was unlucky to find himself in the wrong half of the draw as a strong wind picked up at lunchtime.

"It's the first time I've played in conditions as windy as that for two years," added van de Velde, who because of injury played only six tour events in 2002 and three last season.

Scotland's Alastair Forsyth was trying to find a way back to Spain in a hurry last night - after discovering that he had made the halfway cut. Forsyth finished on the one over par mark of 145 at lunchtime and assumed it was not going to be good enough.

But, as he caught a flight to Gatwick, the wind became fierce and the cut went from one under par to one over.