Martin smooths over removal from team Apology, best wishes offered to Ballesteros

Ryder Cup Notebook

September 25, 1997|By Don Markus | Don Markus,SUN STAFF

SOTOGRANDE, Spain -- The sad saga of injured Ryder Cup player Miguel Angel Martin came to an end yesterday.

In a news conference staged by the European PGA Tour in order to show unity before the start of the 32nd Ryder Cup here at Valderrama Golf Club, Martin offered to put aside his problems with team captain Seve Ballesteros and show his support for the European team.

"If during this distressing incident anyone has felt affected, upset or offended by anything I've said, I sincerely apologize," said Martin, who was removed from the team by Ballesteros after suffering a wrist injury at the British Open that later required surgery.

"It was never my intention to offend anybody. I also genuinely offer my hand to Severiano Ballesteros, and wish him all the success he deserves as captain of the European team. And we are going to win the Ryder Cup -- I hope."

If the Europeans retain the Ryder Cup, Martin will not be there to see it. While trying to help deflect the criticism of Ballesteros for kicking him off the team and replacing Martin with fellow Spaniard Jose Maria Olazabal, Martin declined an invitation to stay for today's opening ceremonies and will return to his home in Madrid.

Martin's gesture was not completely magnanimous. He reportedly will receive an undisclosed sum from Oki, a Spanish computer company and the player's sponsor, for making the team originally. Martin had said recently that a place on the team would be worth around $100,000, and Ballesteros' decision to remove him might cost him that bonus.

Asked if his injury had healed sufficiently for him to play, Martin said it had. But when asked whether he could have been ready to play tomorrow, Martin said, "No, I would withdraw. I wouldn't feel I was going to play my game -- my real game. I can hit the ball, I can play, but not play the Ryder Cup at this time."

Martin was included in the team photo taken yesterday morning. According to someone familiar with the situation, a picture taken of the Spanish members of the team showed Ballesteros, Olazabal and Ignatio Garrido smiling broadly, while Martin wore a blank stare. It was the same kind of look Ballesteros had when asked later about Martin.

"When I arrived this week, I said I was not going to comment on the Martin issue," Ballesteros said. "I will answer questions on the Ryder Cup and the sport side of things."

No turncoat

Dave Musgrove, the regular PGA Tour caddie for American Lee Janzen, is not working here this week. Musgrove is from Great Britain, and told Janzen that it might be a little sticky if he was working for a player considered the opposition.

Meanwhile, on the 15th hole yesterday, Fred Couples took more than a dozen putts from 15 feet away. The balls broke left and right, and never came close to going in the hole. Finally, after teammates Tiger Woods, Davis Love III and Phil Mickelson left for the 16th tee, Couples made one.

A gathering of spectators, watching this study in frustration, loudly applauded.

A slightly startled and somewhat embarrassed Couples, not realizing a crowd was gathered, slinked away.

Woods-Mickelson likely first

Though pairings won't be announced today, U.S. captain Tom Kite likely will send out Woods and Mickelson as his first team.

Others who are expected be in the morning lineup: Tom Lehman and Jim Furyk, Brad Faxon and Justin Leonard, as well as Couples and Love.

It also makes sense because the four who would sit -- Janzen, Mark O'Meara, Scott Hoch and Jeff Maggert -- have games more geared to the alternate-shot format tomorrow afternoon.

Pub Date: 9/25/97

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