GOLF: Poor run continues for Faldo and Rose

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The Independent Online
THREE BIRDIES in the last four holes could not save Nick Faldo from his first missed cut on the European Tour for over four-and-a-half years.

Faldo's miserable form in America this season - he lies 136th on their money list - continued on his return "home" when he failed by one shot to qualify for the final two rounds of the Canon European Masters at Crans- sur-Sierre in Switzerland yesterday.

While the Swede Patrik Sjoland took over at the top from Ireland's Darren Clarke, Colin Montgomerie put his mini-slump behind him with a 66 despite neck and ankle worries. But Faldo managed to improve by only one stroke on his level-par opening round of 71.

Although he has missed four cuts in the States, the 41-year-old's last early exit from a European Tour event was at the Johnnie Walker Classic in Phuket in February 1994.

That cost him the world No 1 spot he had held for 81 weeks. Now he is down to 62nd and, having finished sixth at Crans last year, he is likely to plummet much further when the new rankings are published on Monday. He had come back to Europe to try not only to boost his sagging confidence but also to gather Ryder Cup points.

Afterwards Faldo said: "I played lousy. I think I know what to do and I'll be practising hard next week." His next appearance is the Lancome Trophy in Paris in two weeks' time.

With 18-year-old Justin Rose missing his fifth cut in a row as a professional it was a bad day for the former British No 1 and the player tipped to achieve that status one day. But the three players currently vying for that crown are having a much happier time.

Worksop's Lee Westwood leads the Order of Merit and started his second round with five birdies in six holes before having to settle for a 68 and four-under aggregate of 138. His playing partner Montgomerie, having missed his last two cuts, opened with three birdies and finishing with three more to move to six under. And Clarke, only pounds 42,600 behind Westwood on the money list, still has his sights on the winner's cheque after adding a 68 to his dazzling opening 64.

Sjoland, however, added a 66 to his first-day 65 and on the 11-under- par mark of 131 he leads by a stroke from Clarke, German Sven Struver and the little known Swiss player Christophe Bovet.

Montgomerie was delighted with his beginning and end, but twisted his right ankle at the 9th hole - the same ankle he injured in Ireland in July. "I'm lucky it didn't affect me more - I really turned it again," he said.