Golf: Woosnam makes time for a moan

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The Independent Online
Unlike Jesper Parnevik, conspiracy theories are fully paid up members of the European tour, but Ian Woosnam came up with a belter yesterday. It concerned the placing in the draw of himself and three-time European No 1, Colin Montgomerie.

"What I want to know," he said, "is why Colin always seems to play early on Thursday mornings and me late. It has happened six times recently, including here. It is like a boxer getting a punch in first. You have to go out and match him and it puts you under pressure."

Despite a recurrence of his back problems, Woosnam's 68 took him from a shot behind the Scot to a shot in front and tied him for the second- round lead in the Lancome Trophy, with Parnevik at five under. The draw, of course, is part of the murky world of television, who can see the attraction of the No 1 playing on Friday afternoons, but the tournament director, David Probyn, confirmed that there was no dastardly plot against Woosnam.

Montgomerie could not believe his ears when told of Woosnam's comments. "You see, he's worried now," he said. "I'm delighted if he's fed up. The draw is done for television. I certainly don't ask to go off early on the first day. I actually prefer, if I had a choice, which I don't, to play late-early so you can keep going and not have to wait around on the second morning."

Woosnam, his only dropped shot coming at his last hole, was in the clubhouse when Montgomerie went out and promptly bogeyed the first two holes. He parred round to the 16th, where he hit two drivers to 20ft and holed the putt, bogeyed the next but chipped in for a birdie at the last. "I hit three perfect shots at the 16th and that saved my day," Montgomerie said.

"There always seems to be somebody up there with me. I'm just glad it's always me. I upset Sam [Torrance] by winning last week, but I probably upset Woosie more. As long as I continue to perform as I am doing, I'll upset as many people as I want." Woosnam said simply: "Someone has to stop Monty."

An innocent bystander is Parnevik, who shot a 69 on a day when a swirling wind made scoring difficult. Making sure a man who does not qualify for Ryder Cup points is not an innocent bystander for next year's match against the Americans is the next trick. Seve Ballesteros only has two wild-card picks and one is almost certainly destined for Nick Faldo.

"If a guy is European and playing great in America, what more do you want?" Faldo said. "You want the best European players in the team. We won last time with two wild cards, but the main backbone of the team is getting old - we need the younger ones to come through."

In addition to Parnevik and Faldo, Chip Beck, is the third US tour member present. What they may have noticed is that in America golf shots are played to within feet of the hole, while in Europe shots into feet are self-administered.

Marie-Laure de Lorenzi shot a course record 64 in the Wilkinson Sword English Open at The Oxfordshire for a nine-under-par aggregate of 135. She is two strokes clear of Helen Alfredsson, with Laura Davies a shot further back on 138.

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