Golf: Evans casts off fears

GARY EVANS kept himself on course for a maiden tour victory in Galway after recovering from a major injury scare.

Evans' progress was blighted by a severe wrist injury for two years after a superb start to his professional career saw him touted as "the new Nick Faldo". Surgery in 1994 corrected the problem, but Evans feared the worst last month when a pain in his left shoulder spread down his arm and forced him to withdraw from this year's Open Championship.

"I thought it was my old injury and I was scared, a bit panicky," the 30-year-old from Worthing admitted after his second-round 66 put him just one adrift of the early lead, held by Sweden's Eric Carlberg.

"I tried to qualify for the Open but only managed 10 holes because I couldn't grip the club properly and withdrew from the Open and Dutch Open," he added.

Fortunately for Evans, his fellow tour professional Roger Winchester recommended that he saw physio Paul Morrissey in Croydon. He diagnosed the problem as stress rather than the old wrist injury.

"Paul was great," Evans added. "He said it was nothing to do with the wrist and said it was stress and I had to relax a bit more. I think half the problem was moving house."

Carlberg added a second round 67 to his opening 68 to lead Evans by one, with the rest of the field three shots further back. Des Smyth and Stephen Dodd were among a group of players on five under par.

The afternoon starters were faced with a strengthening wind whipping in off Galway Bay, but that did not prevent the home player Paul McGinley from making progress up the leaderboard.

McGinley has written off his Ryder Cup chances after a mid-season slump in form, but he kept himself in contention for the pounds 41,000 first prize with birdies at the first and third to move to six under par.

Two players still with Ryder Cup ambitions, Costantino Rocca and Padraig Harrington, were failing to make similar progress in the group ahead, and remained at two and three under respectively.

It was left to Stephen Gallacher to surge up the leaderboard, the former Walker Cup player moving to seven under par with six holes remaining.