Golf: McLean aims to emulate Couples

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The Independent Online
MIKE McLEAN, who was impressed by Fred Couples when they were paired together in the Johnny Walker Classic in Singapore last Sunday, is hoping that he can equal the American's coolness at the Tenerife Open where yesterday he led the field after a four-under-par first-round score of 68.

Many players complained about the pin positions on the greens, but the Surrey-based McLean, who also found the flag positions 'really difficult', still had six birdies in his round and only two bogeys.

'When I played with Fred Couples he was so cool. Nothing worried him whatever shot he played,' McLean said. 'If I'm going to improve I've got to learn to take a little of the pressure off myself. I've got to be more assertive and daring and just have a go.'

McLean, who leads the Irishmen, Eamonn Darcy and Christy O'Connor Jnr, by one shot, appeared to be cool enough yesterday although he admitted that in getting the sixth of his birdies at the 16th he had a lucky break.

'My three wood off the tee finished off the fairway close to a palm tree. Had I been behind the tree it might have been two shots more.'

Darcy and O'Connor both scored 69. Darcy took three putts at the short 2nd and dropped shots at the 17th and 18th where he was in bunkers. In between, he had four birdies and an eagle three at the 481-yard 10th, where he hit a drive and a six iron followed by a 15-foot putt.

O'Connor, had six birdies from the 10th, including the first two holes and two more in the last three holes. But he found the bunker and lost a shot at the 12th and had a double-bogey five at the short 6th where he went through a break in a rocky wall round the green and found himself with an almost impossible lie.

TENERIFE OPEN Leading first-round scores (GB or Irl unless stated): 68 M McLean. 69 E Darcy, C O'Connor Jnr. 70 P Affleck. 71 R Claydon, S Struver (Ger), D Gilford, De Wet Basson (SA), M James. 72 C Van Der Velde (Neth), J Rivero (Sp), P Simpson, E Romero (Arg), J Rozadilla (Sp), G J Brand, J Van De Velde (Fr), J Coceres (Sp), M Krantz (Swe), I Feliu (Sp). 73 M Guzman (Arg), H Thul (Ger), M Hallberg (Swe), D A Russell, C Cassells, M A Jimenez (Sp), J Robinson, G Ralph, D Cooper, J Spence, P Mayo. Selected: 75 B Lane. 76 J M Olazabal (Sp). Disqualified: J M Canizares (Sp). (Seven players failed to finish because of bad light.)

Tom Watson and Seve Ballesteros were left trailing behind Brian Watts, of the United States, in the first round of the Hong Kong Open yesterday. Watts shot an eight-under-par 63 to finish nine ahead of Watson and 11 in front of Ballesteros.