Ballesteros in a hear-no-evil mode Query on Martin removal angers Europe's captain

Ryder Cup

September 24, 1997|By Don Markus | Don Markus,SUN STAFF

SOTOGRANDE, Spain -- European captain Seve Ballesteros may have a case of selective hearing -- at least he didn't seem to like at least one question directed at him in yesterday's pre-Ryder Cup press conference.

His reaction came at the mention of critical comments made recently by Colin Montgomerie regarding the way Ballesteros handled the ouster of injured Miguel Angel Martin of Spain from the European team.

Martin, who qualified for one of the 10 automatic spots, is recovering from wrist surgery and was told by Ballesteros last month that he would have to play by Sept. 3 in order to retain his place on the team.

When he couldn't, Ballesteros replaced him with his good friend, Ryder Cup veteran Jose Maria Olazabal, also of Spain. The move drew criticism from several European players, including Montgomerie and another Spaniard, Ignacio Garrido.

Asked yesterday whether Montgomerie's comments would cause any problems when the event begins Friday, Ballesteros stared blankly.

"I don't hear the question," said Ballesteros.

Asked whether he didn't hear it or didn't want to answer it, Ballesteros said, "Yes. I only want to talk about the golf. That is a dead issue."

Martin was supposed to meet with Ken Schofield, the executive director of the European PGA Tour, at the team's hotel here late yesterday afternoon.

The scheduled meeting led to speculation that Martin might be part of the opening ceremonies tomorrow afternoon. A statement TC released last night said that the European tour would not have any comment until today.

Strange mistake

Among those listed as holding press conferences today was Curtis Strange. It was a glaring mistake, since Strange is not on this year's U.S. team and lost the crucial singles match to Nick Faldo in a one-point defeat for the Americans at Oak Hill two years ago.

"Curtis Strange is definitely not here," said Ryder Cup press chief Mitchell Platts, with a hint of a smile. "There has not been a late change."

Lehman collects

This is supposed to be an event in which the players aren't paid. But don't tell that to Tom Lehman.

"I got paid today -- I made 120 bucks off [Jim] Furyk and [Jeff] Maggert," said Lehman, who teamed with Phil Mickelson in yesterday's practice round. "So it was a good day."

Among the other groups U.S. captain Tom Kite used were PGA champion Davis Love III and Fred Couples, Brad Faxon and British Open champion Justin Leonard, Masters champion Tiger Woods and Mark O'Meara, and Scott Hoch and Lee Janzen.

Asked if Woods and O'Meara would be paired together Friday morning, Kite said: "That's one of my possibilities. There are quite a few possibilities. I have some good ideas of what I'm going to do in my pairings, but nothing is locked in stone."

Ballesteros has said that he will likely pair experienced Ryder Cup players with rookies. Among the teams he will send out for practice today likely will be Faldo and Lee Westwood and Montgomerie with Thomas Bjorn of Denmark.

Eight-mile putt

The U.S. team, as has become habit in recent years, flew here on the Concorde Monday from New York after having dinner with President Clinton on Sunday night.

The routine, four-hour flight -- if a flight on a Concorde can ever be called routine -- was highlighted by Faxon putting a ball down the aisle.

The putt might have been the longest in history.

The pilot estimated that the plane travelled eight miles in the time it took for Faxon's ball to stop rolling; not to mention the aisle distance.

Rosters

United States

Captain: Tom Kite, 47, played in seven Ryder Cups.

Name, Age, Cups, Pts.

Tiger Woods, 21, 0, 0

Justin Leonard, 25, 0, 0

Tom Lehman, 38, 1, 2

Davis Love III, 33, 2, 5

Jim Furyk, 27, 0, 0

Phil Mickelson, 27, 1, 3

Jeff Maggert, 33, 1, 2

Mark O'Meara, 40, 3, 2 1/2

Scott Hoch, 41, 0, 0

Brad Faxon, 36, 1, 1

Lee Janzen, 33, 1, 0

Fred Couples, 37, 4, 7

Average, 32.6, 1.2, 1.9

Europe

Captain: Seve Ballesteros, 40, played in eight Ryder Cups.

Name, Age, Cups, Pts.

C. Montgomerie, 34, 3, 7

Darren Clarke, 29, 0, 0

Bernhard Langer, 40, 8, 17 1/2

Ian Woosnam, 39, 7, 15 1/2

P.-U. Johannson, 30, 1, 1

Lee Westwood, 24, 0, 0

Ignacio Garrido, 25, 0, 0

Thomas Bjorn, 26, 0, 0

Costantino Rocca, 40, 2, 3

J. M. Olazabal, 31, 4, 13

Nick Faldo, 40, 10, 23

Jesper Parnevik, 32, 0, 0

Average, 32.5, 2.8, 6.6

Format: Eight alternate-shot matches, eight better-ball matches and 12 singles matches, each worth one point for a total of 28 points.

Pub Date: 9/24/97

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