Spain’s Manuel Ballesteros created a major surprise when he defeated Australia’s Noel Ratcliffe 3 & 2 in the second round of the Daily Telegraph European Match Play Championship at Penina.
Seve’s brother, who went into the event languishing 48th places behind the No. 1 ranked Ratcliffe on the Seniors Tour Order of Merit, was two down after four holes but recovered with a run of five birdies over the next 10 holes to take charge of a match that few commentators believed he could win.
The Spaniard has now defeated two Australians, Ratcliffe and Bob Shearer, in his opening two rounds and will now face a third, Ian Stanley, in the next round. He will do so secure in the knowledge that the £5,000 he has won so far this week is enough to confirm a place in this year’s top-50 on the money list and secure his Tour card for next season’s Tour.
“I had a bad start this morning and deserved to be two down after four holes,” he said. “But I never gave up. I like match play much better than medal play and I knew that anything can happen in this form of golf.
“I’ve beaten two Australians this week so there’s no reason why I can’t go on and beat a third,” he added.
His opponent, Stanley, was in excellent form, being three under par when he defeated America’s Jeff Van Wagenen on the 14th green. The Australian, who won his maiden Seniors Tour victory at the Coca-Cola Kaiser Karl tournament in Germany earlier this season, was four up after five holes and all but put the match out of sight when he hit a glorious 3-iron 187-yards into the wind for a birdie on the 186-yard par-3 6th.
Ballesteros was not the only golfer to produce a surprise because in the bottom match Australia’s Ross Metherell put out second seed, John Grace, the American who has won three times in his last five starts on the Seniors circuit.
Metherell has been suffering from a serious back problem for most of the season but against Grace he was in irresistible form, winning 3 & 2. He now goes on to face Scot, David Huish, a veteran of eight PGA Cup matches, who went to the 21st before overcoming America’s Kurt Cox.
Huish, winner of the Lawrence Batley and the Bad Ragaz Open earlier this season, was responsible for the best comeback of the day. At four down after 12 holes, he seemed destined for defeat but he won the 13th, 14th, 15th and 17th before rolling in a 16-foot birdie putt for victory at the third extra hole.
Elsewhere, England’s Maurice Bembridge defeated compatriot, Jim Rhodes, 3 & 1 and will now face America’s David Oakley, a 3 & 2 victor over Welshman Craig Defoy.
Brazil’s Priscillo Diniz defeated Scotland’s Bernard Gallacher on the 28th hole and will now meet England’s David Creamer for a place in the semi-finals.
Creamer had a 3 & 2 victory over fellow Englishman, Peter Dawson.