Duo are let off lightly

Ernie Els and Sergio Garcia have been let off with token fines for throwing their clubs in anger during the Nedbank Challenge in South Africa, won by American Jim Furyk on Sunday, writes Tim Taylor.

Ernie Els and Sergio Garcia have been let off with token fines for throwing their clubs in anger during the Nedbank Challenge in South Africa, won by American Jim Furyk on Sunday, writes Tim Taylor.

Spaniard Garcia hurled his club away during his first round at Sun City's Gary Player Country Club.

Els, playing on home turf, threw his club at the 14th hole during his third round on Saturday.

Nicknamed "The Big Easy" because of his once fluid swing and normally calm temperament, Els' offence, which was captured by TV cameras, was totally out of keeping with the ethos of the sport.

He hurled his club with such ferocity it crashed into his bag and spun away with his caddie having to move smartly out of the way.

Tournament officials have fined the pair £69.60 (R1,000) each for "minor offences".

Els paid in cash and the fines will be contributed to "the development of South African golf."

The secretary of the PGA North-East North-West Region, Tom Flowers, said "You always have to use your discretion and treat each situation on its merit, depending on the individual circumstances.

"But even so, bearing in mind top professionals like these are playing in front of thousands of people - and millions more on television - these fines do seem surprisingly small."

Meanwhile Seve Ballesteros says he is planning a return to competitive golf next year, including the Masters at Augusta in April and then on the US Seniors Tour.

Words like these have become an annual, if unfulfilled, statement of intent in recent years from Ballesteros who turns 50 on April 9, the day after the Masters ends.

A focal point of last year's Seve Trophy at The Wynyard Club, he has played three tournaments in three years, but rounds of 74 and 77 in the Open at Hoylake in July prompted a rethink about retirement.

Last month he was still undecided, but announced in Madrid yesterday: "I am very excited to return to championship golf and look forward to competing against many of my friends again."

Ballesteros has won five majors, which makes him the second most successful European ever after Nick Faldo, who has won six.

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