Cut in pay for Norman

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GREG NORMAN, the world No 1, who was reputed to have been offered pounds 194,000 in appearance money to play in the Canon European Masters at Crans-Sur-Sierre, Switzerland, which ends today, is returning some of his fee after missing the halfway cut.

Norman, after shooting rounds of 73 and 72 for a one-over-par total of 145, was two shots above the 36-hole guillotine, but before leaving the Alpine course, he gave a hand-written letter to Gaston F Barras, president of the tournament's organising committee, in which he apologised for his poor form.

The 40-year-old Australian says his contract with the tournament will "be adjusted accordingly", and he has promised to return to play in the tournament next year.

Barras said today: "Greg Norman is a gentleman. It was his suggestion that the contract should be adjusted. We enjoyed having him here and we look forward to seeing him next year. He is a truly great golfer."

Meanwhile, the overnight leader, England's Steven Richardson, and the defending champion, Eduardo Romero of Argentina were having a fluctuating battle during the third round yesterday.

Richardson began two shots ahead but, playing with Romero at the back of the 78-strong field, he immediately lost his advantage when the South American eagled the opening hole.

Romero then went two shots clear, when Richardson bogeyed the third and fourth, before dropping a shot himself at the fifth.

At the drivable par-four seventh, Richardson had an eagle two to Romero's birdie three to pull himself back into a share of the lead, and he regained the outright advantage when his rival bogeyed the eighth.

But back came Romero again, hitting his third shot to within two inches of the hole for another birdie at the long ninth while Richardson three putted from less than 12 feet to fall one behind.

While the two leaders were having their private battle, Sweden's Mathias Gronberg, playing ahead of them, went to the turn in 33 and joined Richardson on 12 under. Kent's Peter Mitchell and another Swede, Joakim Haeggman, were also moving rapidly up the leaderboard.

Europe's No 1, Colin Montgomerie, who had started the day seven shots off the lead, made up a little ground by going to the turn in a three- under-par 33, and then had his fourth birdie of the day at the 13th to move to nine under.

Montgomerie's fellow Scot, Sam Torrance, with whom he is having a battle royal for the leadership of the Volvo Order of Merit, was on the same mark after carding 10 birdies in a spectacular round of 64 which was marred only by a double-bogey seven at the ninth.