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Ballesteros has brain tumor

October 13, 2008|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Severiano Ballesteros, Europe's most successful golfer, said Sunday that he has been diagnosed with a brain tumor.

The 51-year-old Spaniard said in a statement released by Madrid's La Paz Hospital that he would have a biopsy Tuesday before doctors decide how to proceed.

"All my career I've been one of the best at getting around obstacles on golf courses," Ballesteros said.

"And now I want to be the best, facing the most difficult game of my life."

Ballesteros, who won a record 50 times on the European tour, won the British Open three times and the Masters twice before retiring last year because of a long history of back problems. He has since focused mostly on golf course design.

Ballesteros was admitted to the hospital Oct. 6 after briefly losing consciousness.

He thanked all his well-wishers "from the bottom of my heart."

When the Ryder Cup competition was expanded to include continental Europe in 1979, Ballesteros helped beat the United States in 1985 to begin two decades of dominance. He was also captain of the European team that won the Cup in 1997 at Valderrama, Spain.

Ballesteros and countryman Jose Maria Olazabal produced the most formidable partnership in Ryder Cup history with an 11-2-2 record.

TENNIS

Jankovic earns third title in three weeks

Top-ranked Jelena Jankovic earned her third title in three weeks, defeating Vera Zvonareva, 6-2, 6-4, in the final of the Kremlin Cup at Moscow.

Igor Kunitsyn overcame 21 aces from seventh-seeded Marat Safin to win, 7-6 (6), 6-7 (4), 6-3, and earn his first ATP Tour title.

"I was hoping to win a couple of games and that's it," Kunitsyn said. "I still don't know how I was able to outplay Marat, but I guess it happens. I still don't understand how I won."

Jankovic was coming off consecutive victories at the China Open and the Porsche Grand Prix in Germany. She earned her fourth title this season and eighth of her career.

"I'm quite close to finishing the year as the No. 1 player in the world, so it's really a huge achievement for me," she said.

Top-seeded David Nalbandian capped a near perfect week with a 6-2, 5-7, 6-3 win over local favorite Robin Soderling in the Stockholm Open final.

Nalbandian, ranked seventh, lost only one set in five matches on the Royal Tennis Hall's hard courts.

"It was great," Nalbandian said. "The conditions are perfect to play indoors. It could be faster or slower. I adapt my game to play here, and I really like it."

Nalbandian earned his second win of the season and ninth of his career. It was also the first singles victory by an Argentine in the 40-year history of the tournament.

Philipp Petzschner upset eighth-seeded Gael Monfils, 6-4, 6-4, in the BA Tennis Trophy final at Vienna to earn his first ATP Tour title.

Petzschner, ranked 125th, had never been beyond the quarterfinals of an ATP event before.

He had to play two qualifying rounds to reach the main draw in Vienna.

MOTOR RACING

Alonso drives to victory in Japanese Grand Prix

Fernando Alonso's victory in the Japanese Grand Prix at Oyama was almost a sideshow to a fiercely contested race that provided another twist in the title fight.

While the Spanish driver made it consecutive victories in his Renault, the event's history of season-defining incidents between title rivals gained a new chapter when Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa tangled in a second-lap collision.

Both leading drivers received pit drive-through penalties before Hamilton finished out of the points for McLaren and Massa finished seventh after a post-race stewards' decision that elevated the Ferrari driver from eighth.

That meant Hamilton's championship lead was cut from seven points to five with two races to go. BMW's Robert Kubica, who finished second, continued to sneak up in the standings and is 12 points off the lead.

Funny-car driver Cruz Pedregon and pro-stock pilot Dave Connolly won at the Virginia NHRA Nationals in Dinwiddie to go from afterthoughts to challengers in the race for the NHRA Powerade Series championships.

The other winner at the fourth of six races in the NHRA Playoff, the Countdown to 1, was top-fuel ace Tony Schumacher. He has 14 victories this season.

Pedregon, who beat first-place Tim Wilkerson in a semifinal, climbed from sixth to third place and to within 69 points of Wilkerson.

Connolly pulled to within 77 points of Cagnazzi Racing teammate Jeg Coughlin and within three of second-place Kurt Johnson.

With his 55th career victory, Schumacher closed in on Greg Anderson's NHRA Powerade Series records for round wins (76) and race wins (15). With two races left, Schumacher is at 71 round wins and 14 race wins.

HORSE RACING

Unbeaten Casino Drive wins allowance race

Unbeaten Casino Drive, a 3-year-old half-brother of Belmont Stakes winners Rags to Riches and Jazil, won a $52,000 allowance race at Santa Anita in a final tuneup for the $5-million Breeders' Cup Classic.

Ridden by Victor Espinoza, Casino Drive covered the 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.14 to win by three quarters of a length.

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