Disqualification scare for Garcia

Hard to tell whether the happenings of the European Tour are stranger on the course or off it. There has been Seve Ballesteros getting into mischief with a tour official at a Spanish amateur event and Colin Montgomerie getting up to an altogether different sort of mischief with a Spanish model.

Hard to tell whether the happenings of the European Tour are stranger on the course or off it. There has been Seve Ballesteros getting into mischief with a tour official at a Spanish amateur event and Colin Montgomerie getting up to an altogether different sort of mischief with a Spanish model.

But it was also a bit lively out on the Valderrama course in the second round of the Volvo Masters as Sergio Garcia survived a possible disqualification.

Garcia's back nine of 31 gave the Spaniard a one-stroke lead over Scotland's Alastair Forsyth. But after his round there was an investigation into the events of the par-three third hole, where Garcia lost his first ball in the trees and then holed out with a provisional for a double-bogey five.

Later, however, a scorer reported to John Paramor, the chief referee, that the original ball had been found by spectators. Bizarrely, though, no one appeared to have passed this information to Garcia, who had not bothered to look for the original.

After talking to the players and looking at the television coverage, Paramor decided Garcia had not refused to identify his ball so he was not liable to be disqualified. "I told John everything but I never felt I had done anything wrong," Garcia said. "If I had, I would be the first to say I wasn't playing tomorrow."

There was drama of a different kind at the 17th hole, which was controversially redesigned by Ballesteros a decade ago. Darren Clarke, after a moderate first round, had worked his way up to the top of the leaderboard by playing the first 16 holes in five-under-par. But from a bunker with his third shot, Clarke spun back off the green into the pond in front of the green.

His next did exactly the same, while the third attempt hit the bank just over the water and also sank without trace. The Irishman finally hit the green for nine and then two-putted from 20 feet for an 11, six-over-par. In no time at all he had gone from three-under-par for the event to three over.

"That just about sums up my year," he said. A mobile went off while he was playing a couple of the shots but Clarke refused to blame the culprit, although said culprit was made aware of his misdemeanour in no uncertain terms. As for his thoughts on the hole, they were "best kept to myself".

Ian Poulter's caddie was informed by a marshal at the 17th of Clarke's mishap but was hurried away before word got through to Poulter, who still had his third shot to play. It was a beauty, finishing two feet away for his fourth birdie of the back nine.

Poulter, who at four under was two behind Garcia, did not drop a shot in his 67, although he holed a 40-footer for his par at the 10th, the first of eight single-putt greens in a row. Though he made the Ryder Cup team, the 28-year-old gave his season "one out of 10".

He explained: "The one was the Ryder Cup, which was awesome, but I've slipped on the Order of Merit and I haven't kept up my record of winning each year. That's what I came here to do this week but even if I win it will have been a disappointing year."

As for Montgomerie, he was pictured in Hola! magazine exiting a Madrid restaurant last week with Ines Sastre, the Spanish model and actress. The recently-divorced Scot said: "It's been an interesting year and it's ending interestingly. It was a bit harder than usual to concentrate but I've had a lot of support from the players." But as a marshal said: "It's not done much for his golf." A 74 left Monty at seven over par.

Volvo Masters (Valderrama) Leading second-round scores (GB and Irl unless stated): 136 S Garcia (Sp) 67 69. 137 A Forsyth 68 69. 138 I Poulter 71 67. 139 A Cabrera (Arg) 73 66; C Cévaër (Fr) 69 70. 140 P Hanson (Swe) 70 70. 141 P O'Malley (Aus) 69 72; J Lomas 69 72; B Davis 68 73. 142 D Howell 73 69; P Harrington 72 70; P Casey 72 70; T Price (Aus) 71 71. 143 P Sjoland (Swe) 73 70; L Westwood 72 71; T Jaidee (Thai) 72 71; R Gonzalez (Arg) 71 72; J Kingston (SA) 71 72; S Dodd 71 72; T Immelman (SA) 70 73; B Dredge 70 73. Selected: 145 T Bjorn (Den) 75 70; S Drummond 74 71; D Clarke 73 72; L Donald 69 76. 146 B Lane 73 73. 147 P Price 76 71; P Broadhurst 73 74. 148 P McGinley 76 72. 149 C Montgomerie 75 74; M-A Jimenez (Sp) 73 76.

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