Raul Ballesteros hits form but still has fair way to go

After seven years of trying, the nephew of Seve Ballesteros, Raul, finally made a real mark of his own on the European Tour yesterday - for 16 holes at least.

The 25-year-old, yet to earn a Tour card and reliant on invitations, stood nine under par and four clear of the field in the Spanish Open here. One more birdie and he would have matched the lowest round of his uncle's career. But instead he got adouble bogey and did not even finish in the lead.

"I got a bit nervous - I was thinking 'I am nine under' and it's never happened to me before," he said.

His 66 was still his best score on the circuit by two, but the former British amateur champion Graeme Storm and Portugal's Jose-Felipe Lima each came in with a 65 to head the field. Colin Montgomerie shot a 68 which he predicted would be his "worst score of the week". The eight-times European No 1, six under before he double-bogeyed the fifth, had been involved in a search before the round to find a new caddie. His regular bag-man, Alastair McLean, caught a bug in China last week and telephoned Montgomerie at 6am saying he felt awful.

"It's a little bit worrying and he's gone back to London," said the Scot, who discovered that Thomas Levet's former caddie, Owen Craig, was holidaying in the area and tracked him down.

Storm finished joint second with Montgomerie in the European Open last July, transforming a career that had included a spell working in a cake factory.

"I don't want to get too far ahead of myself, but everything seems to be going in the right direction," he said.

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