Broadhurst off to another fast start

 

DARREN CLARKE rebounded from his British Masters setback when the Canon European Masters began in Switzerland yesterday.

Clarke followed his 64 in the pro am with a first round 68 at Crans sur Sierre where Paul Broadhurst again got away to a fast start with a 64 to take a one shot lead over Colin Montgomerie, Sam Torrance, Argentinian Eduardo Romero and the English pair of Lee Westwood and Malcolm Mackenzie.

The Dungannon man showed he was in full harmony with the spectacular Alpine scenery as the played his last 12 holes in five under par to remain in touch with European number one Montgomorie and Broadhurst, who has produced a string of low scores since he borrowed Montgomerie's coach Bill Ferguson.

As the latter also coaches Ian Woosnam, winner of four tournaments this year, Clarke, and Barry Lane (67), he is fast becoming as influential as the teachings of David Leadbetter.

Broadhurst shot 62 to take the first day lead in the Volvo German Open three weeks ago. He had a 65 in the Open at Lytham, and yesterday's 64 which he also produced in the French Open in Paris, contained eight birdies as well making a dream come true.

It was foretold by New Zealander Michael Campbell who approached Broadhurst before his round and told him that he had dreamt Broadhurst would score 64 or 65.

"I was astonished," said Broadhurst, "and a little bit concerned he was dreaming about me! If he comes back and tells me I will have 74 in the second round I won't even go out".

There was no fortune teller waiting in the wings for Clarke and after two early bogeys he could have been forgiven for wondering if someone had cast a spell. He missed birdie chances on each of the first three greens, and when he created another for himself from 15 feet at the fourth, he three putted. At the fifth he paid for a poor two iron tee shot, with another lost shot.

But a driver shot to the lunge of the 304 yard seventh for a birdie and a two at the next from 20 feet got him back to par at the turn.

Shot of the day was a four iron to the long 14th that finished only six inches from the flag for an eagle three, which he followed with a birdie from 12 feet at the 17th.

Clarke was home in 32 for a satisfying recovery that left him one shot ahead of World Cup partner Padraig Harrington. The latter had a 67 in his grasp when after 17 faultless holes and four birdies he tackled the uphill long ninth.

Harrington was disturbed by noisy spectators on the tee, and pulled his drive into trees from where he had to hack back to the fairway. He was left with 235 yards to the flag, ideal for a three iron at this 5,000 feet altitude.

Harrington hit it 245 yards and it bounded into the long grass on the steep slope beyond the green, from where he took four more to get down for a double bogey seven.

"It was bad concentration on my part on the tee, then I just hit that three iron too well," he said ruefully. "I was two over par for the par fives and that was my undoing."

He had been out in 33 from the 10th after birdie threes at the 17th and 18th, and his other successes came at the fourth and seventh.

Philip Walton had high hopes of continuing his good start to the Ryder Cup campaign, but was severely handicapped by his stiff neck, and could do no better than a 73.

He has fibrositis, the legacy from sleeping with his hotel bedroom window open on Tuesday night. "It felt like someone had hit my neck with a sledgehammer," he said. "I was all right on the long game but I could not chip a ball."

His discomfort cost him sixes at the long ninth and 15th, although he did manage birdie fours at the first and 14th.

David Higgins blamed a cold putter for claiming only one birdie in a 72, also returned by Des Smyth after he had gone out in 33 to promise a place among the leaders, and Ronan Rafferty who birdied the last two holes after having bogeyed the previous three.

Eamonn Darcy and Raymond Burns were on 73, but Francis Howley failed to recover from a poor start in which he dropped shots at three of the first four holes, and ended with 74.

. Scott Dunlap fired an eight under par 64 in the first round of the Canadian Open in Oakville, Ontario to take a two shot lead over Sweden's Jesper Parnevik. Tiger Woods, making his second start as a professional, shot a 70.

. Laura Davies will lead both the American and European Order of Merits if she finishes first or second in the European Open at Hanbury Manor. A two under par opening 70 yesterday has left her in joint sixth place. Maureen Madill, with a 75, was the best of the two Irish challengers while Tracy Eakin had a 76.