Mansell still seeking the right formula

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reports from Sunningdale

The car leaving the Sunningdale Club yesterday lunchtime a la Nigel Mansell was indeed being driven by the former Formula One world champion. He and his partner John Putt, a local member, were shunted out of the Sunningdale Foursomes in the second round by a couple of canny club pros.

Andrew Reynolds, from Royal Cinque Ports in Deal, and Andrew Hall, of Sand Martins and a regular of the instruction pages of golf magazines, succeeded where Paul Way failed the day before in winning 2 and 1. Though Mansell and Putt won both the holes on which they received shots, the steadiness of their opponents was decisive. There was rarely more than a hole in it, but Mansell leaked his drive into a pond on the right of the 15th fairway to go two down, and that was about that.

As is the way with golf, Mansell probably learned more from yesterday's defeat on the New Course than Tuesday's win on the Old. "The course was tougher and the wind made it more difficult," he said. "I couldn't find my swing and the cold does not help me.

"But I want to become a better player and this was a good experience. Our opponents played very well. You could see they were professionals in the way they never missed a fairway despite the wind. We didn't have any expectations of making the final - it was a bonus to get this far and it was a lot of fun."

Mansell has been changing his swing during the winter with his coach, George Will, a former Ryder Cup player, but knows that, for all the time spent on the practise range, he needs to test himself under competitive conditions. That means playing in next week's medal at the club he owns, Woodbury Park, but one day it may mean attempting to qualify for the Open or, in seven years' time, trying the Senior Tour qualifying score.

"It is everybody's dream to qualify for the Open," Mansell, who needs to lower his handicap of 2.6 before he can enter, said. "If I could be good enough to try and qualify, it would be a wonderful experience and you only need a couple of good days."

Putt, a one-time professional now reinstated as an amateur, thinks Mansell has what it takes. "He has got a wonderful head for the game," he said. "He needs to find a swing which is repetitive, which it wasn't in the wind today, but he is ferociously competitive. He thinks he can hole everything."

Mansell was still trying to do just that with his bunker shot at the short 17th. This was their third after Mansell had missed the green on the left and seen Putt scuttle his chip across the other side. Mansell played a neat shot from the sand, but the ball rolled 10 feet past and, with their opponents having at least two for the match, the concession was inevitable.