Golf: Lane's lovely drive in a new direction: Faldo joins a compatriot in the chasing pack as Simpson and Wadkins move clear at the US PGA Championship

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The Independent Online
BARRY LANE, at the ripe old age of 33, is beginning to broaden his horizons. If the man from Berkshire has never been considered a major contender it is for the simple reason that he has hardly had a shot at the classics. That is beginning to change and yesterday Lane, making his first appearance in the US PGA Championship, got his name on a cosmopolitan leaderboard at the Inverness course.

He scored 67 in the first round and proceeded to describe everything as 'lovely'. He had played, he said, lovely; the course was lovely; he was having a lovely time in Toledo. Lane, who enjoyed a purple patch towards the end of last season, has already qualified for the European Ryder Cup team for the match against the United States at The Belfry next month as, of course, has Nick Faldo. The world No 1 also appeared on the leaderboard when he eagled the 13th hole to go from level par to two under.

Faldo, who had a birdie at the first followed by 10 successive pars, had his first bogey at the short 12th where he found a bunker. However, at the next he reached the heart of the green at the 515-yard 13th and stroked in a putt of around 20 feet for a three. He finished with a 68, three under par, after picking up a birdie at the 17th where he hit a six-iron to two feet. For Faldo, the PGA Championship represents his last opportunity to win a major this year. 'I hit a lot of good shots and I'm pretty pleased,' Faldo said. 'I'll take that for starters.'

Lane, formerly an assistant professional at a public course near Ascot, joined the European Tour in 1982 after making seven excursions to the qualifying school. He has subsequently won more than pounds 1m in Europe, which has won him recognition further afield. Earlier this season he travelled from Binfield to Baltusrol for his first US Open and was the top European there, finishing joint 16th.

When he rose at 5.45am it was to a pleasantly warm, still day and Lane made the most of the benign conditions. At four under he was one stroke behind the unfamiliar twosome, Dudley Hart of America and Richard Zokol of Canada, two behind Lanny Wadkins and three behind Scott Simpson. Simpson, who won the US Open in 1987, equalled the course record here with a 64. He came home in 31 which is remarkable scoring over Inverness's tough closing stretch of holes. Wadkins, the 43-year-old Ryder Cup veteran, had an eagle at the 11th to go to four under and birdied the 13th and 17th.

Wadkins's stroke of luck at the 11th was a nine-iron hit from the right-hand rough. From 130 yards his ball took a couple of hops on the green and rolled straight into the cup for a two. Even that, however, did not compare to the stroke pulled by Darrell Kestner who had an albatross two at the 13th. Kestner, a club professional, hit a five- wood from 220 yards and the ball disappeared into the hole for the first albatross in the strokeplay history of this championship.

When Bob Tway holed a bunker shot at the 72nd hole to defeat Greg Norman here seven years ago, Inverness was not as accommodating. One of the course's defences is the speed of the greens but yesterday they were sluggish, the result of heavy rain earlier in the week. 'Mother Nature caught everybody by surprise,' Norman, who shot 68, said. 'I was disappointed in the slowness of the greens. It means everybody's going to bunch up.'

Lane was not complaining. He thought the greens were lovely. He rolled in putts from 15 and 16 feet for birdies at the third and fourth holes. He went to the turn in 33, two under following a birdie at the long eighth and a bogey at the ninth, where his approach shot went through the back of the green. However, he had two more birdies, at the 13th and the 15th and had he holed from six feet at the 11th and five feet at the 18th he would have advanced to six under. 'The key is in hitting the fairways,' Lane said and, apart from two occasions, his play from the tee was excellent.

Inverness is tight and narrow and the majority of the players are reluctant to unleash their drivers. John Daly, who won the US PGA Championship at Crooked Stick in 1991 after being ninth reserve, has found here that his prodigious length - nobody hits the ball further than Daly - is not necessarily an advantage. Yesterday Daly, who shot 71, did not carry a single wood in his bag. Instead of a driver or three-wood he used a one or a two-iron and played with as many as four wedges. It's like equipping the Terminator with a pea shooter.

Daly was playing with Sandy Lyle (69) and Jose-Maria Olazabal (73). Lyle, who missed the halfway cut in the Open at Royal St George's last month, got to four under par after eight holes, but after reaching the turn in 32 came home in 37. 'After such a wonderful start it was a disappointing score,' Lyle said. 'It all went a bit flat.'

Hart and Zokol, who were playing together, enjoyed the benefits of an early tee time. Hart, 25, from Florida, made his debut in the PGA Championship in St Louis last year and missed the cut. This is only the third major tournament he has played in. 'I got off to a really shaky start,' Hart said, 'but I was encouraged about my putting.' Zokol, 34, who was born in Kitimat, British Columbia, has won next to nothing on the US Tour in recent months. In his last nine tournaments he has missed the cut six times.

Colin Montgomerie and Bernhard Langer will have to score well in today's second round to survive the cut. Montgomerie shot 74, three over par, Langer, the Masters champion, 75. 'I played well and scored terrible,' snapped Big Monty. 'It's what I always do in America.'

(Photograph omitted)

Spence on Ryder march,

Davies takes the lead, page 31