Golf: Woosnam aims to end his drought

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The Independent Online
IAN WOOSNAM, without a European Tour win for 16 months, warned his rivals yesterday that his next victory speech is "due at any time".

Woosnam shot a second round 67 for a 36 holes aggregate of 135, seven under par, to lead the Lancome Trophy field by two strokes despite lacking confidence on the greens.

But as the 40-year-old Welshman said later: "If I get my confidence back when I'm putting I don't think a victory is very far away. I had 30 putts today but it's getting better.

"I'm also hitting the ball from tee to green better than 99 per cent of the field here and I'm very keen to win again."

Woosnam, who leads by two from Colin Montgomerie, American Mark O'Meara, the defending champion, 18-year-old Spanish amateur Sergio Garcia and Spanish professional Miguel Angel Jimenez, has won 28 European Tour events and 43 tournaments in all since he turned professional in 1976.

This year has been disappointing. Second place in the Heineken Classic in Australia in February and second again at Loch Lomond in July have been his only consolations.

Woosnam, however, may find it difficult to hold off the challenge of Montgomerie, who needs only to finish in the first three on Sunday to go back to the top of the European Order of Merit.

Montgomerie, who shot 68 despite a prevalence to hook his drives, has been European number one for the past five years and insists that finishing top for a sixth time is "not a priority".

But the competitive Scot will become very keen if he can overtake Lee Westwood and Darren Clarke, currently first and second in the money list.

Westwood is on 142, seven shots off the pace, while Clarke is an absentee this week.

While Woosnam and Montgomerie were stealing most of the attention Garcia, who does not intend to turn professional until after the US Masters next year, came home in 68 for a share of third place.

Garcia won the British Amateur championship this year and was also semi- finalist in the US Amateur and has already said he believes he can win.

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