Golf: Curry's swinging 60 sets British record

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The Independent Online
THE leader-board had the smell of money about it - and then along came Paul Curry. He played so majestically over the King's course that he had a good chance of entering the Guinness Book of Records as the first player in Europe to complete a round of golf in 59 strokes. Instead, Curry shot a mere 60 in the second round of the Scottish Open.

Nevertheless, it gave him a footnote in history. It was the lowest score recorded by a professional in Britain. In the Monte Carlo Open last week, Johan Rystrom and Darren Clarke both scored 60. In America in recent years, Al Geiberger and Chip Beck both recorded 59. Curry had two eagles, seven birdies, one bogey. He went out in 30, came back in 30. At the 18th, he hit a six-iron approach shot to within 20ft of the flag. 'I was fairly nervous,' he said. 'I was determined not to leave it short.' He didn't. He hit it three feet past. 'It's silly to say I'm disappointed,' he said, 'but you don't get many chances to break 60.'

Prior to this week he had trouble breaking 70. He missed the halfway cut in his last three tournaments, and flew to Florida for a consultation with Nick Faldo's coach, David Leadbetter. 'I'd played 15 out of 17 tournaments,' Curry said, 'and I was stale, ragged. I couldn't hit a shot, I couldn't hole a putt. I couldn't do anything.'

In establishing a new course record, the 31-year-old Curry is in line for a pounds 16,000 bonus from Johnnie Walker. The cheque would be most welcome. Curry and his father, Bob, have lost a 'lot of money' over a golf course and leisure complex at Quietwaters in Essex. When the money ran out, the receivers walked in. Between them, the Currys had an 80 per cent share of the pounds 20m project. 'I've tried not to let it affect me,' Curry said. Should somebody else shoot 60 today or tomorrow, the bonus money would be shared. The Essex man, however, was taking out insurance by placing a bet on a player doing precisely that.

Curry had 11 single putts yesterday, and his brace of eagles came at the par-five sixth and the par- four 14th, where he drove the green and holed out from 30ft. At 310 yards, the 14th is a gift and today the tee will be brought forward, reducing it to 280 yards. The idea is to introduce variety. The driver at this abbreviated hole may now amount to overkill.

At 12 under par for the championship, on 128, Curry shared the lead at the halfway stage with the American, Mark Brooks, who had a 63. A stroke further back are Colin Montgomerie, Bernhard Langer and Peter Senior. When he reached the turn in 36, Montgomerie appeared to be out of it but he came home in a remarkable 28: five birdies and an eagle, and that equalled the British record for nine holes. It was the first time he has broken 30. 'When I saw how well Sandy Lyle was doing I became encouraged,' Montgomerie said. They are painfully aware up here that no Scotsman has won the Scottish Open.

Lyle scored 65 to stand at nine under par, alongside Faldo who equalled the old and increasingly distant course record of 62. 'I'm not surprised at how well I'm playing,' Faldo said. 'I've worked hard. My goal is to suss this game out.' The Texan, Ben Crenshaw, one of Faldo's playing partners, shot 64 and he, like Curry, could gain one of the five cards on offer here that would make them exempt from having to qualify for the Open Championship at Muirfield.

'Nick played a gorgeous round of golf,' Crenshaw said. 'He looked rock solid.' Ian Woosnam, who won in Monte Carlo last week, is only four strokes off the lead, but his putting over the last two holes ruined his day. He took three putts in a bogey five at the 17th and turned a likely eagle three at the 18th into a miserable five. He hit a glorious approach shot to about five feet and putted 18 inches past. He missed that as well. Are you going to the practice putting ground, Woosnam was asked? 'No,' he said, 'I'm going to my room.' The tournament organisers, with hapless timing, asked if he would do something for charity. Again the reply was in the negative.

The caddies, meanwhile, were setting an example. Their nominated charity this week is the Guide Dogs for the Blind, and they promoted the cause on their sun visors. It makes a welcome change from reading advertising for which the players are paid small fortunes.

BELL'S SCOTTISH OPEN (King's course, Gleneagles): Qualifiers after second round (GB and Irl unless stated): 128 P Curry 68 60; M Brooks (US) 65 63. 129 P Senior (Aus) 66 63; B Langer (Ger) 62 67; C Montgomerie 65 64. 131 N Faldo 69 62; S Lyle 66 65. 132 J Spence 65 67; I Woosnam 66 66; P Baker 65 67. 133 J Hobday 68 65; M A Martin (Sp) 66 67; G Orr 66 67; M Lanner (Swe) 64 69; D Waldorf (US) 66 67. 134 M McLean 67 67; J M Canizares (Sp) 67 67; F Nobilo (NZ) 69 65; V Fernandez (Arg) 69 65; T Weiskopf (US) 69 65. 135 R Rafferty 68 67; B Crenshaw (US) 71 64; E Darcy 67 68; A Oldcorn 70 65; V Singh (Fiji) 69 66; R Davis (Aus) 70 65; J Quiros (Sp) 69 66; R Karlsson (Swe) 70 65; M Pinero (Sp) 68 67; P O'Malley (Aus) 65 70. 136 C Rocca (It) 70 66; H Clark 69 67; G Brand Jnr 69 67; Y Kuramoto (Jap) 69 67; M McNulty (Zimb) 68 68; L Janzen (US) 69 67; G Levenson (SA) 68 68; J Haeggman (Swe) 68 68; C Parry (Aus) 67 69; C Mason 69 67; B Barnes 70 66; P Walton 66 70; R Mediate (US) 69 67. 137 L Mize 67 70; S Field 68 69; J Rivero (Sp) 68 69; I Aoki (Jap) 71 66; H Baiocchi (SA) 72 65; D Gilford 67 70; M Roe 69 68. 138 R Lee 70 68; W Westner (SA) 69 69; B Lane 72 66; T Johnstone (Zimb) 73 65; S Ballesteros (Sp) 70 68; A Sorensen (Den) 68 70; M Harwood (Aus) 69 69; G Evans 67 71; P Broadhurst 68 70; R Drummond 71 67; S Hamill 70 68; P Smith 68 70; A Murray 67 71; T Charnley 67 71; J McHenry 68 70; P Fowler (Aus) 69 69; P-U Johansson (Swe) 73 65; J Rystrom (Swe) 69 69; C Maltman 69 69; M Sunesson (Swe) 68 70.

FUZZY ZOELLER, Larry Nelson and Scott Simpson have pulled out of next week's Open at Muirfield. Zoeller has changed his schedule to increase his chances of qualifying for next month's US PGA Championship.

(Photograph omitted)

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