Golf: Lane in lead on a day of duff shots: Tim Glover reports from the Forest of Arden

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The Independent Online
BARRY LANE cannot remember the last time he had hit such a hopeless shot. He took the two-iron out of his bag at the second hole and scuffed the ground eight inches in front of his ball which limped through the air for about 80 yards before finding its rightful resting place in a lake. 'I don't know whether anybody laughed but they had every right to,' Lane said.

What made it even more embarrassing is that his parents were watching him in the second round of the Murphy's English Open here yesterday. 'I couldn't look at my dad,' Lane said. Nor could he look his playing partners, Colin Montgomerie and Costantino Rocca, in the eye. But compared to the fate of the Australian, Terry Price, on the same hole, Lane got off lightly. The Englishman took a penalty drop and his caddie, who refused to pace out the new yardage to the flag, gave him the two-iron again. Lane hit it to within 15 feet of the hole and two putts later walked off with a distinguished bogey five.

It could have been a darn sight worse. The penalty on some courses for hitting such a wretched tee shot that it fails to clear the ladies' tee is one of acute embarrassment. As Lane, who is aware of such customs, put it at his press conference: 'You have to get your 'John Thomas' out.' It is not a tradition with which the R and A is familiar.

Lane had another lapse of concentration at the seventh, where he took three putts to get down from four feet. After missing the first, he casually tried to tap in the second and missed that, too. Despite these aberrations, Lane leads by one and his companions yesterday also prospered.

Lane shot 69 to stand at nine under par at the halfway stage; Rocca, 69 for eight under, and Montgomerie, 67 for seven under. As for Price, he had a birdie at the first and a birdie at the third, sandwiched with a 10. The second hole doglegs left and runs close to the eighth tee and its protective netting. Price's drive landed near the netting.

He took a penalty drop and duffed his next shot, failing to reach the fairway. When he did get on to the short grass, he hit it through the green and found another unplayable lie. After taking a second penalty drop, he left his chip short, and so on and so forth.

However, even Price's 10 was one less than the score piled up by Brian Nelson at the 12th. Although no relation to Horatio, Nelson, an American who finished top of the European Tour Qualifying School last November, found a watery grave at the 12th, hitting his ball into the lake on three occasions. To his credit, he completed his round in 80.

Mark Roe did not last the course. He played only two holes before retiring. The blow he had taken to the head was in the Jonty Rhodes class.

Ian Woosnam, three strokes off the lead following a 70, woke at 3am, suffering from spondylitis. 'I could hardly move,' he said. 'I started to feel better after six holes but I hit one shot sideways. I thought if I could get round in a couple over par I'd be alright.'

It was a good day for the Welsh, and in particular for Philip Parkin, who has not bothered the scorers in recent years. Parkin began with six pars but on the seventh tee his group was warned to speed up.

Parkin promptly made a mess of the hole, taking a seven. 'Oh-oh, I thought, here we go again.' Parkin held on, coming home in level par and, at one under for the tournament, he made the cut - as did the other five Welshmen in the field - and will therefore receive a cheque. This is such a rare occurrence for Parkin that he might be tempted to frame it. However, his bank manager has prior claims.

(Photograph omitted)