Garrido sweeps into lead

Former Ryder Cup player Ignacio Garrido, needing to find form this season to keep his European Tour career afloat, swept clear of the field when the Spanish Open resumed in Seville today.

The 36-year-old from Madrid, who has had only six top 10 finishes since winning the Tour’s flagship PGA Championship in 2003, went to the turn in 31 and led by four.

Garrido, joint second overnight a stroke behind Swede Martin Erlandsson, started with a pitch close to the flag on the 422-yard 10th, then had three more birdies in a row from the 12th.

When a 30-footer went in on the long 16th he was 11 under par and by parring the next two needed to come home in 33 to set a new course record of 64.

Garrido’s Ryder Cup cap came at Valderrama in 1997, but after finishing sixth on the Order of Merit that season he did not win another tournament for six years and his Wentworth triumph – he beat current Masters champion Trevor Immelman in a play-off – did not prove the start of a bright new era.

He has failed to finish in the top 100 on the money list three of the last four years, but his current position of 125th after six missed cuts in his last seven starts is much more of a concern as his five-year Tour exemption runs out in November.

Erlandsson was among the later starters and he was joined in second place by little-known Spaniard Jordi Garcia, while last week’s winner Darren Clarke, only level par overnight, covered his first 10 holes in four under.

That lifted the Ulsterman, who like Garrido made his Ryder Cup debut 11 years ago, into a tie for 10th, having begun the day in joint 48th spot.

It was a different story for Clarke’s playing partner John Daly. The former Open champion, who has lost his card in America after a sorry three years in which he has not managed a single top 10 finish, was heading out of the event at four over par with six holes remaining.

Meanwhile, his former coach Butch Harmon denies he has apologised to the player for not getting the facts right about Daly’s drinking.

Harmon told Yahoo Sports in the United States: “John Daly called me last Thursday and said ’Pro you killed me. I’ve lost all my contracts’.

“I said to him ’John, I’m sorry you lost your contracts, but I haven’t done anything to you. You did it to yourself, and you continue to do it to yourself’.

“He asked if I would go on the record with a retraction and I said no.

“This is just another strange chapter in the John Daly saga. He takes no responsibility for anything.”

Daly had said on Wednesday: “He’s apologised to me. I told him I’d lost a K-Mart deal – that was going to be big with shirts hopefully going into 1,400 stores – and that he’d cost me quite a bit of money with the stuff that he said.

“My marketability went down. It was just rumours, rumours, rumours that just weren’t true and Butch seemed to believe them without talking to me.”

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