Ballesteros urges Woods to be patient but return


MADRID – Seve Ballesteros wants Tiger Woods to be patient about returning to golf although the Spanish golfing great urged him not to abandon the sport.

“Golf right now is going through a little dip, no?” Ballesteros said on Wednesday. “I hope Tiger returns to play because if he goes, golf will lose a lot.”

Woods announced Wednesday that he would meet with reporters Friday to end nearly three months of silence to address a middle-of-the-night accident that sparked shocking revelations about his infidelity.

“He needs to be patient and to start slowly,” Ballesteros, a five-time major winner, said. “He’s still young. There’s no rush. He needs to come back when he thinks he’s ready.”

Ballesteros, who is recovering from a cancerous brain tumor, added he was disappointed with how several of Woods’ sponsors abandoned him following the revelations, including AT&T and Accenture.

Ballesteros looked healthy and was cracking jokes as he reminisced about his past achievements in front of a crowd of several hundred fans at an event organized by sports daily Marca.

Ballesteros underwent chemotherapy after needing four surgeries in late 2008 to remove a malignant tumor from his brain.

But he was counting on returning to play the British Open at St. Andrews this summer, although he said that would depend on how he feels both physically and mentally. Ballesteros won three British Open and two Masters titles.

“I want to play the British Open this year,” said Ballesteros, who pledged to at least go around Wednesday’s four-hole event in honor of past champions. “Those four holes at least.”

Ballesteros was also hoping to someday turn his life story into a movie.

“So many things have happened to me I think it can be done,” said the 52-year-old Ballesteros, who spent 72 days in hospital after the discovery of the tumor.

He also revealed how he turned down a chance to meet Pope John Paul II after his first Masters victory in 1980.

“I’m a die-hard Catholic but I preferred to see Cassius Clay (Ali),” said Ballesteros, who never met Muhammad Ali but received a video message from the former heavyweight champion of the world instead.

Ballesteros named his ideal partners for a round of golf as being former France football great Zinedine Zidane, current Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas and glamor model Cindy Crawford.