Wessels captures lead in Lancome golf

South Africa's Roger Wessels, who said today he was trying hard to win in Europe, fired an 8-under-par 63 over the Saint-Nom course to head the 138-man field in the dlrs 1.2 million Lancome Trophy by a single shot.

South Africa's Roger Wessels, who said today he was trying hard to win in Europe, fired an 8-under-par 63 over the Saint-Nom course to head the 138-man field in the dlrs 1.2 million Lancome Trophy by a single shot.

"Everything clicked today, " Wessels said. "To have a good start like this is fantastic. I can't recall holding a first-day lead in Europe before."

The 39-year-old South African, who has played six seasons on the European Tour, picked up two birdies on his front-9, then rolled in six birdies coming back, sinking four 20-footers overall on the on the 6,903-yard course.

"It was just one of those rounds. I didn't give myself any trouble. It was a sweet run," Wessels said. "I can still qualify for the Volvo Masters with one good finish. Maybe it will be here."

Wessels currently stands 55th in the European money with dlrs 210,000. The top 60 qualify for the season-ending Volvo event.

Wessels was followed in by Spain's Miguel Martin who shot 64, hitting his 3-wood to 16 feet (5 meters) at the 6th, picking up six birdies and dropping his only shot at the 4th when he hooked his 4-iron into rough.

Nick O'Hern from Perth, Australia also fired 64 to tie second. Spanish players occupied three of the top five slots, as Jose Maria Olazabal, a winner here in 1990, and Santiago Luna, tied fourth place a further shot back at 65.

With a firm, fast-running course and in sunny windless conditions, few of the top European players lost touch with the leaders.

Denmark's Thomas Bjorn, tied runner-up in this year's British Open and third in the USPGA, fired 66 with five birdies, two bogeys and an eagle, to move into a share of fifth place.

Bjorn said he drove poorly because he was using a new set of clubs. "The old ones were worn out," Bjorn explained. "I've got no feel with these, and my eagle changed an average round into a good one."

Current money leader Darren Clarke from Ireland fired a 67 as did Masters champion Vijay Singh from Fiji, and England's Lee Westwood, second in Europe, also stayed on Clarke's heels here with a 68.

Colin Montgomerie, Ian Woosnam and Ryder Cup captain Sam Torrance all shot 68, while Eduardo Romero from Argentina, last week's runaway winner at the Canon European Masters, had a 69.

Nick Faldo, who called a truce here Thursday on his long-running Ryder Cup feud with Mark James, carded a 70 while James shot 73.

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