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Seve news leaves friends in tears

Spaniards Jose Maria Olazabal and Miguel Angel Jimenez were reduced to tears after learning Seve Ballesteros is close to death.

Ballesteros' family issued a statement yesterday indicating there had been a 'severe deterioration' in the neurological state of the five-time Major winner.

Olazabal last visited Ballesteros at his home in Pedrena on Saturday, April 16 following last month's US Masters and had lunch with him and his family.

The double Augusta National winning Olazabal said he learnt on Thursday night that there had been a downturn in Ballesteros' condition.

However, this latest set-back to the health of his life-long friend had Olazabal in tears straight after signing for a 72 on day two of the Spanish Open in Barcelona.

Olazabal was so overcome he left the chair immediately in front of the official scorer and moved another chair to the very corner of the El Prat Golf Club scorer's hut as the tears continued to flow.

Olazabal is contesting the Spanish Open for the first time in seven years and this year also marks the 30th anniversary of Seve winning the first of three Spanish Open titles.

Jimenez, who played alongside Olazabal for the opening two rounds, was observed putting a comforting arm around Olazabal's shoulder.

Jimenez, his own eyes red and swollen, had also signed for a 72 and emerged to speak with the waiting media.

However, Jimenez also was overcome with emotion and broke off the interview after just less than 15 seconds without saying anything.

Olazabal, who first teamed up with Ballesteros in the 1987 Ryder Cup, then emerged from the scorer's hut and while accepting an invitation to speak, he found the situation too emotional and left for the clubhouse.

"I don't want to make any statement at all or talk about it, as it's pretty tough," said Olazabal.

"I went to see him a couple of weeks ago and in the week after the Masters. But I knew last night that he had got worse."

Colin Montgomerie was in the group immediately behind Olazabal and Jimenez, but had not been aware of this latest deterioration in Seve's health.

However, having seen Ballesteros speak via a video link to Royal Trophy team members last January, Monty now fears the worst for the former six-times European No 1.

"I heard he wasn't well about a month ago, but it's difficult to talk about Seve when he's still with us," said Monty after carding a 74 for a level-par tally.

"Talk to me if the worst comes to the worst, but all we can do now is to wish Seve every success. But it's just difficult, especially when he's undergone so many operations.

"Seve spoke to us via a video link-up at the Royal Trophy earlier this year. That was the last time I saw him 'live', if you like, but the look in his eyes...


"So, it's just a shame and you could tell then he wasn't himself."

Monty was also present at Augusta this year and though he was of course not present at the Former Champions Dinner, he was well aware defending champion Phil Mickelson presented a Spanish theme meal in honour of Ballesteros.

"I heard the Champions Dinner was very emotional with both Phil and Jose Maria speaking," said Montgomerie.

"Also the way Jose Maria spoke at the Ryder Cup, he probably realised that it would be the last Ryder Cup Seve would be around for.

"He was very emotional that we had won and it was very emotional the way we won and Seve would have been absolutely delighted.

"I tried to get Jose Maria to attend the closing ceremony and he wouldn't come. I organised to get him a jacket and a shirt and I stood up in the locker room, and I said that if Jose Maria's not coming, then we're not going. So we all just sat down."

"I just hope now that you don't have to write tributes."

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Irish Independent