Golf: Faldo on form in Auckland

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The Independent Online
NICK FALDO was quick to throw a protective arm around David Carter after the England pair finished with a three-under-par opening-round combined total at the World Cup of Golf in Auckland.

Faldo kept the England team in contention in New Zealand, completing the first round in only his third appearance in a World Cup with a four- under-par 68 while Carter struggled on the Gulf Harbour Course with a 73, one over par.

Japan captured the first day honours to lead the 32-nation field, teeing off in the very first group of the day to record a 10-under-par 62.

Afterwards Faldo was quick to defend Carter, who struggled in the breezy conditions, dropping three shots over the closing nine holes before finishing with a 73, five strokes behind his more illustrious team-mate.

"David played well and he was having trouble, like me, reading the breaks on the greens," Faldo said. "But we're going to sort that out."

Yasuharu Imano, ranked outside the top 200 in the world set a new course record with his round of 64, while his partner Mitsutaka Kusakabe, who is ranked 146th, finished on 70.

The South African team of David Frost and Nic Henning finished in second place at seven under par, one stroke ahead of Australia and Sweden.

The pre-tournament favourites, Scotland, represented by Colin Montgomerie and Andrew Coltart, finished with a disappointing two-under-par total, two shots adrift of the the United States' John Daly and Scott Verplank.

In Sydney, Australia's Terry Price and David Howell of England overcame difficult conditions to share the first-round lead at the Australian PGA Championship yesterday.

The pair shot matching rounds of three-under-par to lead Trinidad's Stephen Ames by one shot, with Chris Gaunt of Australia and Anthony Wall of England a further stroke behind.

Conditions on the testing New South Wales links course were made even harder by blustery south-easterly winds and 42 of the 150 starters failed to break 80.

In Miyazaki, Japan, Lee Westwood's round of 68 put him two shots off the lead after the first round of the Dunlop Phoenix tournament.