Golf: Payne's profit in the wind

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The Independent Online
JIM PAYNE passed the latest test in his golfing apprenticeship yesterday when he fired a four-under-par 68 to be only one stroke behind the first day leader, Santiago Luna, in the Mediterranean Open at El Saler.

The 22-year-old from Lincolnshire, last season's Rookie of the Year, who had three third place finishes in winning nearly pounds 150,000 last season, made only one mistake in the windy conditions, taking three putts on the 385-yard 14th.

'I'll be quite happy if it blows a bit more for the next three days,' said the former Walker Cup player.

Luna, Eduardo Romero and Colin Montgomerie were warned for slow play as they walked off the ninth green. Four of Luna's birdies came after this. On Wednesday 13 players, including Bernhard Langer and Jose Maria Olazabal, were fined pounds 100 for taking too long in practice.

Montgomerie said: 'I didn't think we were playing slowly, but we were told we had fallen 15 minutes behind. You don't like to hear that and we tended to rush a bit.'

Barry Lane, leader of the Ryder Cup points table, and the title favourite, Langer, twice a winner at El Saler, both had level par 72s, but the Order of Merit leader, Mark James, could manage only a 76 and England's winning Dunhill Cup captain, Jamie Spence, slumped to an embarrassing 81.

His fellow Kent player, Peter Mitchell, went round in 80 and promptly withdrew. Spence knows he is likely to be following him home soon.

MEDITERRANEAN OPEN (El Saler, Valencia): First-round scores (GB or Irl unless stated): 67 S Luna (Sp); 68 E Romero (Arg), M Davis, J Payne; 69 J Quiros (Sp), J Rystrom (Swe), C Montgomerie, M Harwood (Aus), V Singh (Fiji), J Haeggman (Swe), H-P Thuel (Ger), M Roe; 70 P Baker, D Feherty, C McClellan (US), G Brand Jnr, C Rocca (It), D Gilford; 71 R Lee, P Hall, S Field, S Torrance, F Nobilo (NZ), A Pinero (Sp), E Darcy, M A Jimenez (Sp), F Lindgren (Swe), T Levet (Fr), R Alvarez (Arg), M Guzman (Arg), R Hartmann (US), M Krantz (Swe), J M Canizares (Sp), J M Olazabal (Sp), J Parnevik (Swe); Selected scores: 72 G J Brand, B Langer (Ger); 73 S Richardson; 74 M Pinero (Sp); 76 M James; 81 J Spence.

----------------------------------------------------------------- CARD OF THE COURSE ----------------------------------------------------------------- Hole Yards Par Hole Yards Par 1st 437 4 10th 410 4 2nd 399 4 11th 569 5 3rd 530 5 12th 208 3 4th 191 3 13th 355 4 5th 530 5 14th 421 4 6th 454 4 15th 569 5 7th 372 4 16th 432 4 8th 372 4 17th 213 3 9th 159 3 18th 470 4 Out: 3444 36 In: 3,647 36 Total: 7,091 72 -----------------------------------------------------------------