Golf: Olazabal leads but laments

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DESPITE a five-under-par score of 65 which gave him a first-round lead at the Lancome Trophy, Jose-Maria Olazabal was not a happy man at the St Nom La Breteche course, near Paris, yesterday.

The 26-year-old Spaniard had five birdies and an eagle three at the 16th, but he said: 'My game is just not there. On a percentage rating it is only 50 per cent at present. It's as bad as that.

'It has happened to me before, but this is the longest period. I am practising hard to try and find the answer, and I am playing in several events in the next few weeks and hope it comes right.'

Nick Faldo thought the Spaniard had little reason for concern. 'I'm happy enough with my level-par 70,' he said. 'But Ollie is very young. When he is 10 years older he will be happy with 65 every time.'

Faldo, seeking his fourth successive victory on the European Tour, had three birdies and three bogeys. His last bogey came at the par-three 18th, where he hit a four-iron left, pitched into a bunker and then came out to five feet and holed the putt.

Olazabal will begin today's second round one shot ahead of five players: Ian Woosnam, Barry Lane, the Spaniard Jose-Manuel Carriles, and Vicente Fernandez and Eduardo Romero of Argentina.

Woosnam looked as if he might leave the rest trailing when he had six threes, four of them birdies, in his first seven holes - but the Welshman could not maintain his form. His last birdie came at the 451-yard sixth, and he finished with 12 successive pars for his 66.

'I'm a little disappointed after such a fine start,' Woosnam said. 'But in general I'm pretty happy. But I do find it difficult to keep my concentration over 18 holes.

'Whether it's the slow pace of play or because my mind goes blank I don't know, but it does happen to me. I was scoring well in Switzerland recently when it rained and I went to pieces.'

Fortunately for Woosnam his most difficult moment came at the first - before he reached his mind barrier. His ball finished next to an apple which had fallen from the tree above him. 'I hit both the ball and the apple with a five iron and it landed just 15 feet from the hole - the ball, not the apple' he said.

Lane, who finished fourth in the European Open at Sunningdale last week, was one of the few contented players, even though he had a bogey at the last, which cost him the joint leadership.

'I had to play in the Equity and Law event at Royal Mid Surrey on Monday and Tuesday because I had won some bonus money there, and I feel really knackered,' he said. 'I got here late and didn't even have a practice round. But you can't complain about a 66.'

LANCOME TROPHY (St Nom La Breteche, Paris): First-round scores (GB or Irl unless stated): 65 J-M Olazabal (Sp). 66 B Lane, E Romero (Arg), J-M Carriles (Sp), V Fernandez (Arg), I Woosnam. 67 M Farry (Fr), O Sellberg (Swe), M Roe, T Johnstone (Zim), H Clark. 68 C Rocca (It), G Day (US), C Mason, S Luna (Sp), W Riley (Aus), S Richardson, B May (US). 69 G Brand Jnr, S Torrance, J Payne, P Walton. P Senior (Aus), J Rystrom (Swe), M James, F Nobilo (NZ). 70 M-A Jimenez (Sp), J van de Velde (Fr), J Rivero (Spain), R Davis (Aus), M Harwood (Aus), B Langer (Ger), N Faldo, C O'Connor Jnr. 71 T Levet (Fr), R Karlsson (Swe), I Palmer (SA), B Ogle (Aus), F Lindgren (Swe), G Waite (NZ), D Feherty, M-A Miguel (Sp), P Mitchell, P Broadhurst, I Baker-Finch (Aus). 72 B Gallacher, M Mackenzie, D Gilford, D Silva (Por), J Spence, R Rafferty, C Strange (US), J-M Canizares (Sp). 73 M McLean, M Besanceney (Fr), A Sherborne, C Montgomerie, V Singh (Fiji). 74 W Westner (SA), P Baker, M Lanner (Swe). 75 D J Russell, M Davis, P-U Johansson (Swe), A Forsbrand (Swe). 76 J Haeggman (Swe).

Europe's test, page 32