Golf: Parnevik has a sunny spell as rain hits rivals: Bell's Scottish Open

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The Independent Online
IT WAS appropriate weather for the BBC's swan-song. In the morning the weatherman pointed to a map of Scotland and indicated that Gleneagles would probably be saved from a spot of rain that was appearing on the horizon. The Scottish Open here was hit by such a deluge that play in the second round was suspended.

Jesper Parnevik was fortunate to complete his round before the greens became flooded and he brilliantly took the opportunity to increase his advantage. A bizarre day, a bizarre leaderboard. Parnevik had another trail-blazing finish for a 66 and on 130, 10 under par, the Swede, who is attempting to win his first championship on the European Tour, opened up a handsome lead. His closest challengers were Gary Evans, who was seven strokes behind, and Sam Torrance and Robert Lee, eight strokes adrift.

When the rain relented the championship resumed after a delay of three hours and there were some hungry and cold golfers still out on the course until nearly 10.30pm. One of them was Evans.

The BBC's extensive coverage followed a film called Miracle in the Rain. It was a good day for the Beeb to announce a new six-part series, Golf And All Its Glory, which begins on BBC 2 on Wednesday on the eve of the Open Championship. It is made by BBC Scotland, and written and presented by Bruce Critchley, who said: 'In a week in which BBC Scotland has been roundly stuffed by the European Tour it is nice to produce some good news.'

Critchley was referring to the Tour's announcement that they had done a deal with BSkyB to cover 30 tournaments over the next three years, including the Ryder Cup. When the Scottish Open finishes tomorrow it will mark the end of the BBC's coverage of the championship. Bell's are contracted to sponsor it for one more year after which they may not renew their interest. It is understood their marketing men believe Sky's coverage will be considerably less effective. However, the company that runs the Scottish Open say the BBC had their chance and blew it. 'It wasn't a question of money,' a spokesman said. 'We could not get guarantees from the BBC on what sort of coverage they would provide. It was a classic north-south divide. The head people in London have let down BBC Scotland.'

Sky offered the Tour a package. In addition to a sum of money, which neither side will disclose, Sky say they will underwrite events that have no sponsor; European Tour Productions, in harness with Mark McCormack's TWI, will not have to give BBC Enterprises a cut and Sky can also provide something else: a plug for every secondary sponsor. Thus we could have: 'Welcome to the Bell's Scottish Open on the Volvo Tour and there, in front of the Ebel clock, is Maruman's Ian Woosnam sipping a Highland Spring with a wee drop of Johnnie Walker.'

Parnevik came close to landing his first Tour event when beaten by Seve Ballesteros in a play-off in Spain last year. Parnevik, whose hobby is shark fishing, threw himself into the lake by the 18th at St Mellion last year when he had a wretched score in wretched weather. At Gleneagles, the tee times have been kind to him and his scoring has been extraordinary.

He finished the first round with six birdies on the trot and yesterday he came home with four birdies in the last five holes. 'I am a very aggressive player, sometimes too aggressive,' Parnevik said. 'I've had chances to win and seem to make the same mistakes. I hope I have learnt.' He rang his family in Sweden and they are 'holding their thumbs for him,' which is the Swedish answer to keeping your fingers crossed.

Torrance, like Parnevik, made huge inroads over the back nine. He picked up six strokes from the 12th and eagled the 14th where he hit a three-wood to six feet and also the 18th. At the par-five last he hit a six- iron from 191 yards to within 12 inches of the flag. 'I'm playing better golf than I've ever done,' the 39-year-old Scotsman said. 'Everything in my life is better now.'

Torrance has won three times this season and is second to Nick Faldo in the Order of Merit. 'I saw Gill Faldo at the beginning of the year and I asked her how Nick put up with the pressure of being in contention all the time. Now I know and it's a lovely feeling.'

BELL'S SCOTTISH OPEN (Gleneagles): Leading second-round scores (GB or Irl unless stated): 130 J Parnevik (Swe) 64 66. 137 G Evans 69 68. 138 R Lee 67 71; S Torrance 73 65. 139 C Mason 72 67. 140 B Marchbank 73 67; S Lyle 73 67; P Stewart (US) 71 69; R Chapman 69 71. 141 C O'Connor Jnr 71 70; R Boxall 73 68; C Montgomerie 70 71; S Luna (Sp) 71 70. 142 D Clarke 69 73; G Orr 70 72; E O'Connell 77 65; S Bowman 73 69; E Romero (Arg) 72 70; I Woosnam 73 69; A Webster 73 69. 143 R Mann 70 73; P Way 69 74; D Cooper 72 71; P Baker 69 74; J Rivero (Sp) 77 66; M Jiminez (Sp) 71 72; J van de Velde (Fr) 72 71. 144 B Lane 75 69; S Richardson 73 71; J Rystrom (Swe) 72 72; C Gillies 71 73; M Mackenzie 70 74; D Hammond (US) 73 71; G Ralph 73 71; P Fowler (Aus) 71 73.

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