Havret takes half-way lead in Scotland

Just one month after a scary-sounding confrontation with a bull, Frenchman Gregory Havret might now have to fight off two giants of golf to win the Barclays Scottish Open at Loch Lomond this weekend.

Just one month after a scary-sounding confrontation with a bull, Frenchman Gregory Havret might now have to fight off two giants of golf to win the Barclays Scottish Open at Loch Lomond this weekend.

After a brilliant second round 64 the 30-year-old shares the lead with Spain’s Jose Manuel Lara after a day that saw Colin Montgomerie, Retief Goosen, Tom Lehman, David Howell, Trevor Immelman and defending champion Johan Edfors all miss the halfway cut.

But world number three Phil Mickelson is only one behind and world number five Ernie Els, twice a winner of the title and finding form just in time for next week’s Open, looks menacing too in the group just three back on seven under par.

Not as menacing, though, as the situation that faced Havret and compatriot Raphael Jacquelin when they entered a bullring for a game of football during a friend’s stag party in Madrid. The 200-kilo bull was in there as well.

“It was a little one, but still big enough,” he said. “It got me, but I was not injured. It just pushed me a bit. Now you understand how mad we can be sometimes – it was fun. Would I do it again? For sure.”

Havret has come back superbly not just from that, but also from the disappointment last Sunday of missing out on a place in the British Open by one putt.

He and Swede Pelle Edberg finished joint third in the European Open, but Edberg took the Carnoustie spot by virtue of a better closing round.

The former Italian Open winner’s last chance is to be the leading non-exempt player on Sunday, but Lara, recovered from a heel injury that kept him out of action for the best part of two months, has the same target.

With a sparkling eagle at the 13th and then birdies at the 15th and 16th during heavy rain, the 30-year-old handed in a 65 and relegated Mickelson to third place.

The left-hander added a 68 to his opening 65, but that was the best that the first four first-round leaders could manage.

Lee Westwood fell back to three under with a 74, Mickelson’s playing partner Graeme Storm shot a 72 for five under and Dane Soren Hansen a 73 for four under.

Mickelson also had to contend with the worst of the weather and once back in the dry said: “We can deal with it for a day and I am sure it will be nice this weekend.

“Having a chance to win it’s going to be a lot of fun. I didn’t feel all that great on the course today. I was fighting it a little bit on the tee and with the putter, but I was able to get away with a couple of bad shots.”

As did Els at the 415-yard 12th after his leaked drive kicked into some of the worst rough on the entire course.

He was lucky to find it let alone have a swing and, after avoiding a tree with his next shot he escaped with a miraculous par before moving into joint seventh with a 66.

He said: “I’m happy with the way things are going right now. I’ve had a really tough time and it’s not been a lot of fun, but today was more like it and I really want to play better golf.

“A lot of my business stuff is really running nicely now and I’m really looking forward to next week. I am close – my swing feels good and I’ve made big strides in my putting.”

Joint fourth are England’s Simon Khan, Argentina’s Andres Romero and Boo Weekley, whose US Tour win earlier this season has set him up for an Open debut at Carnoustie.

Paul Lawrie, winner of the Open on the same course eight years ago, had a chance to join them when he stood seven under with six to play but the Aberdeen golfer bogeyed four of them.

Darren Clarke and Paul McGinley lead the Irish pack on -4.

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