Golf: Faldo shrugs off swing claim

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The Independent Online
NICK FALDO has reacted wearily to the latest round of accusations in the war of words between him and David Leadbetter, the coach he sacked last week after a 13-year partnership.

Leadbetter has accused Faldo of copying his teaching methods at the golf schools he is setting up with the Marriott Hotel Group, but the suggestions were shrugged off by the British player yesterday.

Faldo, who had just shot a six-under-par 65 in the first round of the Belgacom Open, was in a happy mood after shooting eight birdies. Otherwise he might really have lost his rag.

"I don't really want to comment. There are only so many ways of teaching a golf swing," Faldo said. "It's a shame. I'm disappointed in all parties, what was said and what was written. Why they have to do that, I don't know."

Faldo's frustration, however, was tempered by a brilliant round, which would have given him the outright lead without bogeys at the short 11th, his second hole, and the 4th.

He scored three birdies in his outward half from the 10th and five more coming home. His superb effort leaves him only one shot behind the joint leaders, Sweden's Robert Karlsson, New Zealander Greg Turner and Van Phillips of Maidenhead, who all equalled the course record of 64 without a bogey on their cards.

"I don't know when I last had eight birdies," Faldo said. "It's all a blur. Good iron play and good putting were the keys today."

Karlsson, Turner and Phillips, who all had seven birdies and 11 pars, had better than usual reasons to be pleased with their rounds.

Karlsson said: "I took all my chances today which is the difference between a good round and an average round."

Turner commented: "I've only made five bogeys in my last seven rounds and I was happy not to make one today."

Phillips added: "I missed the Volvo Masters last season but this time I should make it. That was one of my goals this season."

Lee Westwood, who is hoping to beat Colin Montgomerie in the race to be the European No 1 this year, hit a four-under-par 67 to lie three shots off the lead. He is pounds 112,000 behind Montgomerie, an absentee this week, and, with only one more counting tournament to come, could close the gap to pounds 45,000 if he wins on Sunday.

Yesterday he said: "I played lovely golf and made very few mistakes. I'm still in with a very good chance."

Scores, Digest, page 27