Golf: Gilford leads British charge

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The Independent Online
FIVE British golfers will have a common goal at the Lyon Open, which begins today. If either Paul Eales, David Gilford, Carl Mason, Philip Price or Jim Payne win the first prize of pounds 37,500, he will go to the top of the Volvo European Order of Merit with the chance of greater bonuses to come.

The first two players in the money-list after the Volvo PGA Championship at Wentworth at the end of May automatically qualify for the US Open and Gilford, who was second at that stage 12 months ago, would like a repeat.

'I had won about pounds 150,000 to be second after the PGA championship last year,' he said. 'I think I would need at least the same amount again to qualify for the US Open. I missed the cut there last year but I would love to have another go.'

Eales intends to try to qualify for the US Open and has been accepted for the final qualifying competition in Houston on 2 June, which involves playing 36 holes on the same day.

He won the Extremadura Open for his first European PGA Tour win in February and said: 'I blew all my goals for this year out of the window when I won in Spain so anything else would be a bonus. I don't want to sound boring but I am sticking to the football cliche of taking one tournament at a time.

'It would be nice to go to the top of the Order of Merit and nice to be in the top two after the PGA championship but I'm having a crack at the US Open by playing in the qualifying. So let's see what happens.'

Of the five who could top the money-list when the tournament ends on Monday evening only Payne has not already won this season. Of the 7,289-yard Lyon course, Payne said: 'It's in very good nick but it's long and tough and anyone shooting level par for the four rounds will go close to winning.'

Mason agreed that shooting sub-par golf will not be easy. Although he said yesterday: 'I shot a one-under 71 today in the pro-am and that included a treble bogey six at the short eighth.'

Apart from Gilford, four other Ryder Cup players, Gordon Brand, Gordon Brand Jnr, Ronan Rafferty and Brian Barnes, are in the field.