Golf: Spence's first priority: Tour leaders' break opens way for challengers

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The Independent Online
JAMIE SPENCE will be hoping to make up for his disqualification from the Rome Masters last weekend with victory in the Catalan Open which starts today at Osona Montanya near Barcelona.

Spence was the joint leader in Italy when a spectator reported him for dropping his ball in the wrong place during the third round and he was disqualified.

'I didn't know the rule well enough and that was my fault, but some people are bound to think I cheated and it's been difficult to get it off my mind,' Spence said. 'It's difficult to get into contention. You may only do it three or four times a year and it's annoying to have spurned an opportunity.'

Spence has since been sounded out by European Tour officials about the possibility of regular rules seminars being held at tournaments. John Paramor, the Tour's chief referee, said: 'I worry about the lack of knowledge. It's not good for the tour to have disqualifications. I've been involved for 17 years and I'm still learning, but basically I don't think the rules are that difficult.'

The Tour leaders, David Gilford, Mark James and Costantino Rocca, are not playing at Osona Montanya which will give Frank Nobilo and Wayne Westner the chance of moving above them on the money list. However they will face tough opposition in a field strengthened by the return of Ian Woosnam, Jose-Maria Olazabal, Colin Montgomerie and Anders Forsbrand after playing in the US Masters.

Mark Mouland's aim simply will be to complete the four rounds. The Welshman thought he might have to withdraw after shutting his finger in a door just before leaving for Spain but he said: 'Even though I can't grip the club properly I'm going to play and see what happens.'

----------------------------------------------------------------- Table: Card of the Course ----------------------------------------------------------------- Hole Yards Par Hole Yards Par 1st 375 4 10th 383 4 2nd 127 3 11th 453 4 3rd 307 4 12th 419 4 4th 349 4 13th 526 5 5th 522 5 14th 192 3 6th 164 3 15th 506 5 7th 405 4 16th 440 4 8th 431 4 17th 214 3 9th 510 5 18th 404 4 Out: 3,190 36 In: 3,537 36 Total: 6,727 72 -----------------------------------------------------------------