Golf: Way's desperate days

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The Independent Online
Paul Way's dramatic collapse from the heights of the Ryder Cup continued in Spain yesterday with an 81 in the opening round of the European Tour qualifying school.

The 33-year-old former Volvo PGA champion, forced to go back to the school for the first time since 1981 after slumping to 158th on this year's Order of Merit, trailed in joint last of the 93 players at San Roque, where Tasmania's Matthew Goggin leads on the five-under-par mark of 67. At the nearby Sotogrande course, Enfield's Brian Davis began his bid for one of the 40 Tour cards on offer with a seven-under-par 65 for a two-stroke lead over Dorset's Martyn Thompson and Ben Tinning of Denmark.

"It's a nightmare at the moment," said Way, a member of the Ryder Cup sides in 1983 and 1985. His last tournament victory was the European Open nine years ago, and in the last five months he has made just one halfway cut.

Now his future is on the line and he has left himself a mountain to climb after a round containing five bogeys, one double-bogey and a triple-bogey. "It's just ridiculous," Way said. "I've lost my confidence and I don't know what's going on. There's not a lot I can say really. It's desperate stuff."

Like Way, Scotland's Gordon Sherry double-bogeyed the 428-yard last after driving into water. But that was where the similarity ended. Sherry, a former British amateur international, still hit a 69 to be joint third, two shots behind Goggin.

The English club professionals Nick Brown and Joe Higgins were delighted just to tee off. What should have been a 20-minute journey to the course from the apartment they are sharing turned into an 80-minute adventure they never want to repeat. Driver Brown missed the entrance to the San Roque club and they became lost, almost ending up in Gibraltar. "I drove at 120mph overtaking everything (and this on the road known as "The Highway of Death") and Joe, who was due to tee off 10 minutes after me, said: `Don't kill us, it's only a game of golf'.''

Brown then proceeded to "play great" before two late bogeys dropped him to the one-over-par mark of 73. Higgins, a former travelling companion Ian Woosnam, shot 75. Jack Nicklaus' son Gary and Bernard Gallacher's nephew Stephen both shot 72, while at San Roque the former Tour winners Gordon J Brand and Stephen McAllister both hit 71.

Ernie Els and Wayne Westner fired four-under-par 68s yesterday as hosts South Africa established a two-stroke lead on a wet first day of the World Cup of Golf at the Erinvale Country Club course outside Cape Town. Denmark were two strokes back on 138, helped by the day's lowest round, a five- under 67 by Thomas Bjorn. Scotland were third on 139 thanks to Paul Lawrie's 69 and a 70 from Andrew Coltart. The United States, the defending champions, finished on 146.

Scores, Digest, page 31

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