Broadhurst's 66 leads charge of the old guard

British Masters: Experience proves vital as Ryder Cup veteran sets out to show he can still find winning touch

Featuring at the top of the leaderboard at the British Masters did not stop Paul Broadhurst taking his eldest son to the cinema last night. Today, the man from Atherstone will set out to claim his first title for nine years, pocket £266,660 and, most importantly, show his children that he is a winner.

Featuring at the top of the leaderboard at the British Masters did not stop Paul Broadhurst taking his eldest son to the cinema last night. Today, the man from Atherstone will set out to claim his first title for nine years, pocket £266,660 and, most importantly, show his children that he is a winner.

In a queue at the supermarket three months ago, Broadhurst was tapped on the shoulder by a fellow shopper. "My youngest, Sam, turned him to and said: 'My daddy used to be a really good golfer'," Broadhurst recalled. Now 38, Broadhurst played in the Ryder Cup 13 years ago and won four times on the European Tour. In 2000, he suffered a serious hand injury and the following year lost his Tour card, only regaining full playing privileges last year.

"I had to have a long think when I lost my card," he said. "I wasn't enjoying the game but I am no good at anything else. I've had a few barren years, but I'm not one of those superstars who can retire tomorrow."

Driving superbly to stay out of the rough, Broadhurst scored a 66 with eight birdies to lead at 11 under by a stroke from Barry Lane and Eduardo Romero. Experience appears to be a key here: Lane is 43, and will celebrate his 500th event in China next week, while Romero is 49.

The Argentinian could today become the oldest-ever winner on the European Tour. Lane, who has a dodgy right knee, has had the left knee tightly strapped all week after not being able to walk on Monday. He can still play golf, however, as shown by a three-iron to 10 feet for a birdie at the last. Lee Westwood and Brian Davis, the Englishmen loftily placed on the leaderboard, fell away without a birdie between them.

Yesterday was cold and wet at the Forest of Arden, proof that the first tournament of the season in these isles precedes the arrival of summer by some distance. The demanding conditions were compounded by some teasing pin positions, which meant that anything under 70 was rare. Ian Poulter's 68 took him to four under par, where Darren Clarke also finished after a 69. Paul Casey had a 69 as well to get to five under, but his day would have been improved without the double- bogey seven at the 12th.

Here the hole was located at the front left of the green, which is angled back towards the pond in front of it. With the wind against at the 547-yard par-five, going for it in two was not an option. Then again, a pitch shot played with just too much spin could find itself trickling down into the water.

"What should I say?" Casey wondered while conferring with his caddie. "Let's say I was unlucky. We thought we were doing the sensible thing. It's just that the green is so soft and you can't do much about that."

This is Casey's first tournament after a three-week break following his sixth-place finish at the Masters. He is now starting a row of nine events in 11 weeks, and was not going to get too upset in the first of those when the Deutsche Bank Open and the Volvo PGA follow swiftly on.

Poulter was back in his pink trousers, but the fashion statement was only revealed when he removed his waterproofs after putting out on the 18th. His schedule is up in the air as his partner is due to give birth to their second child on the Sunday of the Deutsche Bank. He wants to be present, but if he is in position to cement a Ryder Cup place he may stay and play.

Poulter has suffered on the greens this year, but after switching putters almost daily he has decided to narrow the choice down to the three which have won him his four titles. Clarke had given away his putter to an autograph hunter after his second round, and the new implement worked rather better.

The Northern Irishman is part of the Tournament Committee, and voted for the minimum of 11 events that is required for European Tour membership and eligibility for the Ryder Cup and which means that Jesper Parnevik and, in all likelihood, Luke Donald will be disqualified from selection.

"I can see their predicament but it is my personal opinion that you should be a member of the Tour to play in the Ryder Cup," said Clarke. "The selection system will be reviewed after the match."

At one point Colin Montgomerie was only three off the lead but, not having his "competitive hat" on, he was not looking at the leaderboards. A three-putt bogey at the last might have provoked a reaction at another time in his life, but following the break-up of his marriage, he confirmed he was merely living "day to day" at this stage.

"Playing 72 holes instead of 36 this week was a result," he said. "This year has hit a brick wall. If I am in the US Open, The Open, the Ryder Cup, then fine. If not, then they will be weeks I can spend with my children."

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