Golf: Only regret for Carter is iron choice

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DAVID CARTER equalled the course record at Slaley Hall, Northumberland, in yesterday's Compaq European Grand Prix with eight birdies, before admitting he might have broken it had he listened to his caddie.

After a near-perfect performance, Carter, from Chesterfield, had to settle for equalling the record of 65 shot by Ross Drummond in the inaugural tournament in 1996 and by Colin Montgomerie a year later.

The South African-born 27-year-old said: "I've shot a 62 twice before on the European Tour but this was incredible. The course has some funny holes and tricks but no course is difficult when you shoot a low score."

On his way out Carter shot three birdies but then on the four-par ninth hole, which plays much harder than its 452 yards, he bogeyed. However, on the back nine, he shot another five birdies, mainly due to some excellent putting.

The final hole saw him eight-under par but choosing the wrong club cost him the course record, and he drove into the crowd, eventually having to settle for a birdie.

"My caddie, Cliff Picking, told me to use a six iron but I chose a five," Carter said. "Sometimes I'm right and sometimes he is. On this occasion he was right."

The early pacesetter was Peter O'Malley, who, until dropping a shot on his penultimate hole, was seven-under-par. Regardless, the former Australian junior champion was satisfied with his opening round of 66.

"I struck the ball quite well and mis-hit only two shots," O'Malley said. "I had a solid performance and gave myself lots of birdie chances. You have to drive well here and the greens are a lot faster than they look.

"I like to play with the sun on my back and today it was nice and sunny," he explained. "I've had three top 30s in my last six events and I feel I've got some form now.

"I got myself in tune by taking last week off, playing with the kids and watching Australia win the World Cup cricket on television."

Lee Westwood, who only accepted a sponsor's invite for the tournament on Monday, had a frustrating day. Finishing level on 72, the Worksop man, who was third two years ago, missed numerous putts.

Early starters David Lynn and Paul McGinley were lying equal-third while Sandy Lyle enjoyed his Slaley Hall debut, coming in two under par.

Local amateur Simon Robinson made the perfect start when he reached three- under-par after the first four holes. The 18-year-old from Seaton Carew was the first starter and began in trail-blazing style, posting birdies on his first three holes ahead of his partner, the seasoned Ryder Cup player Howard Clark.

Robinson, who took his place in the tournament after retaining his qualifier because last year's event was rained off, delighted more than 50 of his supporters who had travelled the 30 miles from Hartlepool to cheer him on. He was unable to sustain his surge, however, finishing 11 shots behind O'Malley.

COMPAQ EUROPEAN GRAND PRIX (Slaley Hall, Northumberland) Early first- round scores (GB unless stated): 65 D Carter; 66 P O'Malley (Aus); 67 D Lynn, P McGinley; 68 D Lee, S Bennett, G Emerson; 69 J Rystrom (Swe), J Lomas, S Struver (Ger); 70 B Lane, H Clark, J Robinson, R Gozalez (Arg), C Cevaer (Fr), I I Garbutt, V Phillips, R McFarlane, S Lyle, T Gogele (Ger); 71 A Forsbrand (Swe), R Wessels (SA), J Rivero (Sp), D Hospital (Sp), R Drummond, G Orr, S Leaney (Aus), R Claydon, S Webster, P Harrington, P Broadhurst, I Hutchings (SA); 72 J McHenry, P Affleck, M Scarpa (It), R Chapman, N O'Hern (Aus), M Long (NZ), R Winchester, R Green (Aus), G Turner (Aus), L Westwood, P Walton; 73 C Rodiles (Sp), S Cage, S Scahill (NZ), S Luna (Sp), M James, D Chopra (Swe); 74 A Raitt, R Davis (Aus), H Nystrom (Swe), A McLardy (SA), P Quirici (Swit), S Dodd, P Lonard (Aus), J Mellor, S Alker (NZ); 75 H Selby-Green, P Haugsrud (Nor), B Langer (Ger), P Price, M Mouland, A Sherborne; 76 W Riley (Aus), M Santi (It), M Anglert (Swe), S Henderson, F Valera (Sp), T Maxwell; 77 N Roderick, S Robinson, S Tinning (Den); 78 D Fletcher, P Carman; 80 O Sellberg; 81 J Bickerton.