Golf: Penalty costs Romero first-round lead

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The English pair, Carl Mason and Jonathan Lomas, had the unenviable task of reporting Eduardo Romero for a rules infringement that cost the Argentinian veteran a share of the lead after the opening round of the Italian Open.

Romero accidentally grounded his club while sizing up his line on the 14th green of the Gardagolf course in Brescia, breaking a European Tour regulation that cost him a two-shot forfeit. And although he did not know he had committed the indiscretion, he accepted the English professionals' word and took his penalty.

The tournament director, David Garland, said: "On the 14th green Eduardo walked forward on his line and played a couple of practice swings 10 feet from the cup. His partners noticed he grounded his club, Jon Lomas watching through his legs as he touched his line, although he cannot remember doing so. We had no other proof because the television cameras did not show it, but Eduardo accepted the penalty."

Romero said: "I don't know what happened because I didn't see anything, feel anything. Carl and Jonathan say they both saw it so I accept that. Now I have the determination to win, so no problem. Now I will shoot 66 in the second round."

That left Romero in an eight-way tie for third place, two shots off the lead held by Retief Goosen of South Africa, whose six-under-par 66 left him one ahead of Ian Woosnam. The Welshman's return to a wooden driver worked the trick as he produced a five-birdie 67.

Goosen, who had his maiden European victory in last year's Slaley Hall Challenge, holed a huge 50-footer on the last following an eagle and four birdies as he set the record at Gardagolf, despite suffering from a bout of influenza.

"I felt terrible and I used up a whole toilet roll wiping my nose on the way round," Goosen said. "I guess I felt so ill I just got on with it and I holed some putts."