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Page last updated at 14:07 GMT, Friday, 14 May 2010 15:07 UK

Seve Ballesteros says he is ready to play at St Andrews

Seve Ballesteros
Ballesteros will receive a rapturous welcome when he steps on to the tee at St Andrews

Seve Ballesteros says he is looking forward to playing at St Andrews in a four-hole commemorative event on the eve of the Open Championship in July.

The Spanish legend, who has undergone four operations since being diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2008, is among 32 former champions invited to play.

"I am happy and looking forward to playing the Champions' Challenge," said three-time Open winner Ballesteros.

"I think I can do very well and say thank you to all my UK fans."

The 53-year-old, who won five majors in a glittering career, will be joined in the competition by other legendary Open winners, including Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and Nick Faldo.

The special event is scheduled to be played over the first, second, 17th and 18th holes on the Old Course on 14 July and is part of the Open's 150th anniversary celebrations.

It will be a fitting farewell appearance for Ballesteros in front of British fans on the iconic Scottish course.

The Spaniard won the second of his Open titles at St Andrews in 1984, when he finished two shots clear of Bernhard Langer and Tom Watson, and said he has "many great memories" of playing there.

Madrid would really be a fantastic city to host what is one of the biggest sporting events in the world

Miguel Angel Jiminez on Spain's Ryder Cup bid

Ballesteros was speaking at a media conference on Friday as his country launched its bid to host the Ryder Cup in 2018.

During the event, Ballesteros was also asked about next month's World Cup and he said he hoped Spain can go on from their European Championship success and win it.

"It will not be easy though and I honestly believe that England along with Germany and Brazil will be the main contenders," he commented.

"England have some great players and if Spain don't win I would like to see them have a good tournament."

Spain officially submitted its Ryder Cup bid at an event at the Santo Mauro Hotel in Madrid.

Golfers Miguel Angel Jimenez and Miguel Angel Martin and Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas were there in support.

The bid involves a new course at Tres Cantos, which will be designed specifically for the Ryder Cup.

Gonzaga Escauriaza, president of the Royal Spanish Golf Federation, stated: "Tres Cantos will set new standards for state-of-the-art spectator viewing and environmental management and will provide a fitting stage for golf's greatest event."

Jimenez added: "Madrid would really be a fantastic city to host what is one of the biggest sporting events in the world.

"It has the capacity to accommodate visitors from all around the globe to come and enjoy the culture and watch the game we love so much, played by some of the world's best golfers."

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see also
Seve poised for St Andrews return
06 Mar 10 |  Golf
Ballesteros backs returning Woods
23 Mar 10 |  Golf
Golf on the BBC
01 Jul 11 |  Golf

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