Golf: Park's 65 equals course record

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The Independent Online
DAVID PARK had the best birthday present of his life when he finished a magnificent 12 under par and equalled the course record of 65 on the second day of the Compaq European Grand Prix at this Northumberland course.

Park, 25 yesterday, produced a round which included eight birdies. It lifted him to the top of the leaderboard after a morning session in which he showed remarkable skill and confidence around the course.

Park, who last week on his European Tour debut lost a play-off to Spain's Miguel Angel Martin for the Moroccan Open title, held a four-stroke lead over Miles Tunnicliff when the morning players began returning to the clubhouse.

The Welshman had to wait to see how the overnight leader, David Carter - whose 65 gave him a one-stroke advantage over Australia's Peter O'Malley and two over Park, David Lynn and Paul McGinley - fared later in the day.

Park's overnight elevation to celebrity status will not change his down- to-earth attitude. He said: "I was a bit down in the mouth not winning in Morocco. But I don't think about money and records. That just takes away your focus."

In contrast to last year, when continuous rain caused the abandonment of the tournament - the first in the history of the European Tour - yesterday players were revelling in the perfect conditions. Below-par scores were plentiful, and Peter Mitchell and David Gilford, who were playing together, also tied the course record of 65.

On day one Carter had done the same, joining Ross Drummond and Colin Montgomerie, who shot their records in 1996 and 1997 respectively.

Justin Rose was spending an anxious afternoon waiting to see whether he had made his first European Tour cut. The teenager began the day three over and started with a bogey at his first hole.

Despite another at the ninth, he managed four birdies to finished with a 69 and level par for two rounds. But with the low scoring continuing, his chances of making the cut were not good.

n Trinidad and Tobago's Stephen Ames, unable to obtain a visa to play in the United States until last month, fired a six-under-par 65 to lead the Buick Classic after the first round at Westchester Country Club, in Harrison, New York.

Ames, competing in only his third event of the year, lives in Calgary, Canada, and a dispute at a border crossing led to him being denied US entry.

"The urgency is more just to play golf because I've had six months off," he said. "I was quite eager to get out and start playing because I can't play much in Canada."

New Zealand's Frank Nobilo was one stroke off the pace and the American Jim Carter two behind in the race for the pounds 300,000 first prize. South Africa's Ernie Els, who won this event in 1996 and 1997, had a 69.