Gallacher stumped by mishit stroke

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The Independent Online

Stephen Gallacher missed equalling the lowest round of his European career here at the Madrid Open after incurring a one-shot penalty for hitting the ball when he did not mean to. At the other end of the field, Sandy Lyle, suffering from flu, retired from the event on the fourth hole. He was eight over par and had no hope of the top-nine finish he needed to keep a European tour card he has held for 25 years. The 45-year-old will be seeking sponsors' invitations next season.

While Paul Casey moved four clear of the field in a frost-delayed second round, Gallacher, the nephew of the former Ryder Cup captain Bernard, moved into contention for his first tour title with a 64 and joint second place at Club de Campo. But it should have been a 63. Putting for par from three feet at the 467-yard 13th, Gallacher clipped the ball making a practice stroke. "It moved only about a quarter of an inch, but I remembered Davis Love doing the same [at the 1997 Players' Championship] and he was disqualified for not replacing the ball," the 28-year-old Gallacher said. "It's a thing you never expect, but I'll never do it again. From now on I'm going to take my practice stroke about three feet away."

Gallacher finished his round with three birdies to join his Scottish compatriot Paul Lawrie and the Australian Peter Fowler in the clubhouse lead on nine under par. However, Casey was among those unable to finish because of the earlier hold-up and after adding five birdies to his opening 63 he had reached 13 under with three to go when play was called off.

Lawrie returned a 64 and it could result in him getting a call from Colin Montgomerie. Montgomerie is the captain of the Britain and Ireland team to face Continental Europe in the Seve Trophy at El Saler near Valencia in two weeks' time and has one wild card to name.

Sergio Garcia, who was second overnight, twice missed from under three feet as he remained seven under with a 71, while Padraig Harrington, twice a winner here, double-bogeyed the 12th en route to a 73 and four under aggregate.

* Tiger Woods moved within 18 holes of matching a long-time PGA Tour record when he shot a six-under-par 66 to trail Brenden Pappas by three strokes after the opening round of the Funai Classic at Disney World in Florida. Barring a disaster in last night's scheduled second round, Woods will be credited with making his 113th straight cut on tour, matching the mark set by Byron Nelson in the 1940s.