Golf: The sum of Parnevik's missed putt

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The Independent Online
SERGIO GARCIA is not the first and won't be the last to discover that playing like a god one day usually leads to playing like a clod the next. Well, not quite. For the first time in six rounds, Garcia failed to score under 70 in the second round of the Standard Life tournament but following a round as low as a 62 is a puzzle few have ever solved to their satisfaction.

The 19-year-old was still under par, however, with a 70 and at 10 under was holding second place, one behind Jesper Parnevik. The Swede scored a 67 to move to 11 under, while a formidable pack developed at eight under, containing Colin Montgomerie, Lee Westwood, David Park, Roger Winchester and Michael Campbell.

"It is very mentally draining to be up in the lead," Parnevik said. "Sooner or later you are going to be tired and have an off day like Sergio did today. But I am sure he will be back going for the pins tomorrow. It will be fun watching him play."

The pair won a shoot-out together before a tournament in Germany in May. Parnevik, who is still hoping to qualify for the Ryder Cup team rather than depend on a wild card, can be entertaining to watch as well.

A wild card in another sense of the phrase, you never know what the mildly eccentric Swede is thinking about. He missed a two-foot par-putt on the 10th because he was thinking about a little mathematical problem he had a bet on with his caddie. The problem involved laying out a rope around the circumference of the earth and another on three-foot high stakes. What is the difference in the length of the ropes? Parnevik thought it was less than 20 yards, his caddie more. The Independent could exclusively reveal to the Swede that he had won the bet - the answer is in fact less than 20 feet (six times ) - but Parnevik would rather have not dropped the shot in the first place.

The equation was far simpler for Garcia, who admitted feeling tired after winning the Irish Open on Sunday and starting so well in the first round at Loch Lomond. "It is only natural to feel a bit more tired but I am drinking my vitamins and I shall feel better after going for a short run," he said. "It was one of those rounds you are always going to get. I didn't hit the ball as well or as close.

"You don't shoot too many 62s in a week," added the Spaniard. "A couple a month is great." Most people are lucky to get a couple in a career. Montgomerie, certainly, sat up and took notice after Garcia's 62 on his debut in the US tour in May. "Having played there and not having scored a 62 there myself, I recognised the guy has an awful lot of self-belief."

But Montgomerie thought talking about breaking 60 was not on. "I felt I had an opportunity to score a 59," Garcia said in his defence. "I didn't say I deserved it." But the Scot was clearly irked about it after his own 65. "I'm not here to say I'm going to break 60, that's for sure," Monty huffed. "That was an odd thing to say. Yes, I've had my opportunities in the past to score 59 as well but I don't go in and say I can break 60. It's only happened three times in history. Every round could be, should be better but it's a thing we don't mention all that much."

With that off his chest, how did Montgomerie describe his second round? "A 65 is good but not as good as it should have been," he said. "I had a golden opportunity to shoot lower than I did. With the soft fairways this is more or less a putting competition and I didn't putt the way I would like to have done."

Having complained of his ill-fortune in having an unfavourable late-early tee-time - as the leaders went out in the afternoon sunshine - and fully expecting to be "five or six shots behind tonight", Monty will be delighted to have been proved wrong and will start today only three back.

Westwood, the defending champion, slipped back after a couple of late bogeys while Winchester holed an approach shot for the second day running. Des Smyth had the day's low round with a 64 to get to four under but Park's appearance on another leaderboard was impressive.

In contrast to Garcia, Park is 25 years old and has spent a year and a half on the Challenge Tour. But his victory in the European Grand Prix two weeks ago came in only his second full European tour event. The Welshman's only let-down in an exciting month came when he shot seven over for the last nine holes in Ireland last week but the newcomer was back in the frame yesterday with a 65.

"I must be very boring to speak to because I have nothing to say," Park said. "I've got no secret. I can't tell you what the difference is." Work that one out.

nJohn Daly has joined American Ryder Cup captain Ben Crenshaw along with Jack Nicklaus and Tom Kite in pulling out of the Open at Carnoustie next week. Crenshaw faxed the Royal and Ancient Club saying that, like Kite, he did not consider his game up to the championship.