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BRITISH OPEN NOTES : No Turning Back Clock for Ballesteros

July 17, 1993|CHRIS DUFRESNE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SANDWICH, England — Like Arnie's Army, fans of Seve Ballesteros stand by their man, convinced that their hero can turn back the clock with one good bunker shot.

They follow the famous Spaniard through thick and thin.

Mostly thin of late.

After tugging at some heartstrings with an opening-round 68 at Royal St. George's, Ballesteros reverted to the form of the last two years, shooting a bogey-plagued 73 on Friday that left him well off the pace.

It was a frustrating outing for Ballesteros, a three-time British Open champion, whose six bogeys overshadowed his wonderful pitch for a birdie on 15 from 112 feet.

Ballesteros, who claimed to have felt 15 years younger after his 68 on Thursday, had aged considerably Friday after losing his fistfight with the course.

"Do I looked tired?" he asked rhetorically.

Ballesteros, 36, had been through the wringer, again.

In 1992, he finished 184th on the PGA money list with $39,206.

His top finish this year was a third place in the Dubai Desert Classic.

"The people always support me; that helps a lot," he said.

They'll be out in force today.

"I'm still happy," Ballesteros said. "I'm still alive. To win this tournament, you have to do something special."

*

Among the prominent golfers missing the cut were Tom Watson, a five-time British Open champion; John Cook, the runner-up at Muirfield last year, and Britain's Sandy Lyle, the 1985 champion at Royal St. George's. . . . Mark Calcavecchia, one of four first-round leaders, shot a 73 and fell seven shots back. Payne Stewart shot a 72 and is three over par for the tournament.

*

Corey Pavin, who has shot 68-66, said a change in his swing 10 days ago improved his game.

"I'm hitting the ball a lot further," he said. "I'm also hitting it a lot lower, which is good in this wind. I'm surprised it has been so easy. I've been playing very well for two months. I've not been able to get a win. I had a couple of seconds and a fourth."

*

A reporter for the Sun, one of London's more sensational tabloids, filed his Friday story on the British Open and was soon reprimanded by one of his editors.

"What's this birdie and bogey stuff?" the editor inquired.

After which the reporter went off to explore the history of John Daly's drinking.

Inquiring minds want to know.

*

After 38-year-old Greg Norman, the Shark, took a share of the first-round lead with a score of 66, the tabloid headline writers went into a frenzy.

The winner: "Jurassic Shark," from the London Daily Mirror.

Honorable mentions: "Norman Conquest," and "Shark Sandwich."

*

Talk about bunkers: During World War II, the course at Royal St. George's was used for artillery practice. Two bombs landed on the edge of the 13th fairway. The divots were filled with sand and remain permanent bunkers.

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