Golf: Phillips targets a Ryder call-up

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The Independent Online
ENGLAND'S VAN PHILLIPS set his sights on a Ryder Cup place after continuing his fine form in the Madeira Island Open yesterday.

The former Walker Cup player from Maidenhead has already won his first European Tour title this season, the Algarve Open, earlier this month.

He found himself at the top of the leaderboard again when fog brought an early end to play on the Santo da Serra course, with almost half the field yet to complete their rounds.

Phillips weathered one of a number of torrential downpours which forced a 95-minute stoppage to fire an opening 68 - four under par - and a share of the lead with Scotland's Ross Drummond and Christopher Hanell of Sweden.

"It's everyone's ambition to play in the Ryder Cup and it's not impossible for me if I win again or finish high in the big ones," Phillips said.

"There is definitely a period of change in the Ryder Cup. Maybe some of the established guys are not as ambitious and are dropping down, while the younger guys are going for it."

Drummond harboured few such grand ambitions after matching Phillips' 68 but he was delighted with his round in only his third event this season.

The 32-year-old from Prestwick decided to only start his season at the beginning of April despite finishing last year on a high when he won the European Tour qualifying school to regain his card.

After missing the cut in his only two events so far, it began to look as if that could have been a big mistake from the Paisley-born right-hander, who is still seeking his first tour title.

But five birdies and just one dropped shot vindicated his decision in style. "I made a commitment to start in Portugal, and you live by your decisions," Drummond said. "This is a good start and I'm delighted."

There was less joy for Justin Rose, however, the 18-year-old finishing with a four-over par 76.

He was one under after 12 holes, but dropped five shots in his last six holes and faces an uphill battle to make the last two rounds.