Golf: Gilford and Clark press their claims: Ryder Cup men battle it out at the top of the European Open leaderboard as windy conditions play havoc with second-round scores

Click to follow
HOWARD CLARK in drugs scandal] 'I shouldn't be telling you this because you'll twist it around and make it look as if I'm sniffing the stuff,' the gritty Yorkshireman declared. Right on Howard. He can sleep easy. There's no drug testing in golf and if there was Clark has the medical notes to justify skipping a PE lesson.

Clark's glittering career has been interrupted in recent years by a series of ailments, one of which resulted in an operation for 'tennis elbow'. He's still on an anti-inflammatory drug for that to keep the pain away. 'Hopefully it's within the rules of the Sports Council,' he said. 'If not, tough.'

When Clark suffered from hay fever he was on a course of tablets and he took the trouble to check with the Sports Council as to whether they were ethically permissable. They had good news and bad. The good was that the drugs were not on their banned list; the bad was that they were not on their approved list either. They suggested an alternative treatment called intro-articular (it sounds like a phrase from journalism school and is something with which we are not familiar). 'You have to have it in a joint,' Clark said. This, of course, was another unfortunate phrase.

Clark, quite unprompted, disclosed the contents of his medicine cabinet after coming in with a 68, a score matched only by David Gilford. Colin Montgomerie could not reproduce his clickety-click of the first round, but with East Sussex increasingly playing like a links course and with the wind of change blasting all over the heath, another 66 was out of the question.

Montgomerie came in with a 73 and said he played better than on the first day when he led with his 66. 'I'm playing absolutely fabulous . . . the best I've played in a month's spell.' Considering that he's won the Murphy's English Open and the Volvo German Open, this might be construed as an overstatement. However, he added that the conditions here yesterday were 'horrendous'. This puts the 68s of Clark and Gilford in a different perspective.

Despite his 73, Montgomerie, in alliance with Clark, stands at five under par at the halfway stage, a stroke behind Gilford. All three have Ryder Cup experience but Gilford is the odd man out in that he is not that bothered whether he plays in the match against the United States. 'I didn't enjoy it much the last time,' Gilford said. The first, and perhaps the last time for Gilford was in the defeat to the US at Kiawah Island in 1991. When Steve Pate withdrew from the singles because of an injury, Gilford was pulled out of the European team by the non-playing captain, Bernard Gallacher. Hence the Gilford by-pass.

The next match is at Rochester, New York, in 12 months' time. 'I'm not thinking about it,' Gilford said. 'It's not one of my firmest ambitions. I was disillusioned with all that War on the Shore and the Battle of The Belfry stuff. That's not part of golf. There's a fine line between fierce patriotism and going over the top.'

Gilford - you need a hearing aid to catch his drift - could never be accused of going over the top. In between earning a few bob on the European Tour, he tends a herd of Hereford cattle. If they are hard of hearing they will never know of Gilford's existence. Crewe golfer in cattle rustling shock] His cow and gate yesterday (68 in bingo terms) contained five birdies, four of them over a back nine of 32.

His only bogey of the round came at the ninth, 466 yards into the teeth of the wind and they are trying to hit the green with driver, driver. A par there yesterday was a major achievement. The stroke average for the ninth was nearer seven than four: Jose Coceres had a 10, Paul Way a three and a birdie at that hole deserves a plaque.

'It's very severe,' Gilford whispered. In Gilford-speak this means that the hole is totally unplayable. Russell Claydon, who admitted after his first round of 67 that he cannot string four of them together, shot 77 and Jose-Maria Olazabal followed a 68 with a 74. That included a triple-bogey six at the 16th where he put his tee shot into the lake, took a penalty drop and duffed that into the water as well. In the end he chipped in for his six.

Olazabal was playing with Clark and Sam Torrance, and this three- ball somehow managed to produce a first: by comparison with the Spaniard (lots of cursing and words with the caddie) and the Scotsman (his father Bob had to remind him to keep his chin up), Clark looked like Mr Happy. The cut was made at four over par and Torrance made it with nothing to spare, not even a smile.

As for Seve Ballesteros, he shot 75. Nevertheless he is still under par for the championship and that puts him in elite company. This followed his 'amicable' meeting with Ken Schofield, the executive director of the European Tour. 'Seve may feel we provide quantity to the detriment of quality, but I think I went a long way to alleviate his concern,' Schofield said. 'We regret that Nick Faldo is not here, but I stress that that is his choice.'

(Photograph omitted)