Swagger signals Faldo's false dawn

Nick Faldo gave a tantalising glimpse of what could be before a late stumble halted his charge in the Lancome Trophy here in Paris yesterday. For 16 holes it was vintage Faldo. There were six birdies and the return of a certain swagger in the stride of the six-time major winner.

Nick Faldo gave a tantalising glimpse of what could be before a late stumble halted his charge in the Lancome Trophy here in Paris yesterday. For 16 holes it was vintage Faldo. There were six birdies and the return of a certain swagger in the stride of the six-time major winner.

Two off the lead with two downwind holes to play, the opportunity was there for him to go to the top of the leaderboard and post his best score on the European tour for two years.

Instead he dropped shots on the 17th and 18th and had to settle for a second-round 67, five under for the tournament, and four off the lead held by the Australian left-hander Nick O'Hern.

"It's annoying to finish like that and it dampens what could have been a really great day," Faldo said. "But it was good to go out and create a lot of birdie chances. I played really well and the ball was searching for the hole on the greens.

"At times my game feels good. Not like 10 years ago, but it's just a process of clawing my way back and every shot is a shot towards the world rankings and the Ryder Cup."

O'Hern added a 69 to his opening 64 to finish nine under and lead Dean Robertson and Australia's Brett Rumford by one shot, with the Argentinian Jose Coceres, the former Open champion Paul Lawrie and Denmark's Anders Hansen another shot back.

Robertson, the Italian Open champion last year, carded a 65, the joint best round of the day, to move into contention for his second tour victory. "It's not flowing, I'm thinking a lot of technical things so I'm working very hard on my swing even on the course," he said. "Even today I hit a number of very bad shots but put them straight behind me. If you're not 100 per cent happy with your game you accept bad shots better.

"But I would put it up there with the 63 in the third round in Switzerland last week. It's the first cut I've made in five starts here, I decided to just come out on Wednesday and not play a practice round to try and do something different."

Lawrie celebrated a long-overdue return to full fitness by moving into contention with a 68. He has been dogged by injuries since late last season and has not won since his play-off triumph at Carnoustie.

"This week is the first time for a long time I stepped on to the first tee without any pain," Lawrie said. "It's difficult to play good golf when you have something wrong with you."

The overnight leader, South Africa's Roger Wessels, suffered the indignity of missing the cut by adding an 81 to his opening 63.

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