Golf: Players' lightning reaction

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The Independent Online
AS THE Peugeot Spanish Open attempted to make up for lost time yesterday after being hit by virtually everything except a swarm of locusts, the eye of the storm focused on the safety arrangements of the European Tour. 'If they don't do something soon,' David Feherty said, 'somebody's going to get barbecued.'

Players were critical of the reaction of officials to the thunderstorm which struck during the first round. They said they could see the storm coming and felt play should have been suspended before it was. 'It is not worth losing a life for the sake of 20 minutes extra play,' Heinz-Peter Thul said.

Thul, a 29-year-old German, had a remarkable escape on the 13th fairway when his umbrella was hit by lightning and he was thrown to the ground. 'If it hadn't been made of plastic and rubber, I'd have probably been killed,' he said. Thul is putting his complaint in writing to the tour committee. D J Russell was another to have a lucky escape when his putter was knocked out of his hands.

Nick Faldo, the world No 1, said the Tour should buy a lightning detector. 'It would be expensive,' he said, 'but nothing like as expensive as a suit. I've told them about it before. People's lives are in danger and this is a priority.' In America they have lightning detectors and conductors and weather forecasting is a sophisticated industry. Even so, several spectators were killed by lightning two years ago at both the US Open and the US PGA. In places like Hampshire, Hereford and Hertfordshire hurricanes hardly happen.

'We've seen what they do at tournaments in America, but there they are much more likely to have dangerous storms,' John Paramor, director of European Tour operations, said. 'If you look at our Tour over the last five years, there have only been half-a- dozen times when we've had lightning that could be described as dangerous.'

Only 75 players completed the first round on the first day and yesterday they started early and finished late at the RAC club. Even so, they will have to make another early start this morning to complete the second round.

Faldo, who had a 68 in the first round, did not tee off until 5.06 yesterday evening and he finished at 9.40. Faldo shot 69 and at 137, he was a stroke behind Mats Lanner. Faldo, who finished in semi-darkness, nevertheless birdied the last hole. However, Sandy Lyle, one of his playing partners, had a disastrous back nine, coming home in 40 and he missed the cut. Lanner shot 64 to stand at eight under par for the championship.

Lanner, who played only one hole on Thursday, played 35 yesterday. He had a par 72 in the first round, had an hour's break, during which he demolished a Spanish omelette, and went back out to demolish the course with a remarkable streak of putting. 'When I'm hot I'm hot,' Lanner said. 'When I'm not I'm not.' Sheer poetry.

PEUGEOT SPANISH OPEN (RAC Club of Spain; Madrid) Leading second-round scores (GB and Irl unless stated): 136 M Lanner (Swe) 72 64. 137 N Faldo 68 69. 138 J Haeggman (Swe) 69 69; S Luna (Sp) 71 67; E Els (SA) 70 68. 139 P Baker 70 69; P Mitchell 68 71. 140 R Davis (Aus) 70 70; D Clarke 69 71; M Pinero (Sp) 72 68; J Hobday (SA) 70 70; C Mason 70 70; G Day (US) 69 71. 141 G Brand jnr 68 73; W Riley (Aus) 71 70. 142 P Fowler (Aus) 71 71; J Rivero (Sp) 71 71; V Singh (Fiji) 72 70; A Sherborne 70 72; R Chapman 70 72; J Hawkes (SA) 72 70; R Rafferty 68 74. 143 R Claydon 72 71; M Sunesson (Swe) 71 72; P-U Johansson (Swe) 74 69; A Forsbrand (Swe) 70 73; M-A Jimenez (Sp) 71 72; J Payne 71 72; M Davis 71 72; J Townsend (US) 72 71; J Quiros (Sp) 71 72; O Sellberg (Swe) 74 69; J-M Olazabal (Sp) 74 69; A Hare 73 70. 144 P Broadhurst 69 75; H Thul (Ger) 72 72; M Mouland 72 72; D Feherty 72 72; C Rocca (It) 76 68; S Rey (Swit) 71 73; P McGinley 74 70; G Cali (It) 73 71; R Boxall 72 72. 145 C Moody 71 74; P Curry 73 72; J Berendt (Arg) 71 74; M Clayton (Aus) 74 71; S Grappasonni (Italy) 74 71; J Coceres (Arg) 71 74; M Gates 71 74. 146 D Cooper 73 73; S Little 71 75; S Tinning (Den) 73 73; J Davila (Sp) 76 70; P Lawrie 73 73; S Torrance 70 76. 147 J Rystrom (Swe) 75 72; D Mijovic (Can) 76 71; J Parnevik (Swe) 74 73; C Montgomerie 71 76; B Longmuir 72 75; T Levet (Fr) 75 72; B Marchbank 76 71; I Palmer (SA) 73 74; E O'Connell 73 74; T Johnstone (Zim) 75 72; G Levenson (SA) 71 76.

42 players failed to complete second round because of bad light and play will resume today. They included overnight leader, Ian Woosnam, five under par after 32, and Seve Ballesteros, one under par, also after 32.