Foster makes his mark at Gleneagles

Sixteen years after his unbeaten part in sending Tiger Woods to Walker Cup defeat, England's Mark Foster is hoping to seal a return to team golf in real style this weekend.

Sixteen years after his unbeaten part in sending Tiger Woods to Walker Cup defeat, England's Mark Foster is hoping to seal a return to team golf in real style this weekend.

The 36-year-old from Worksop - a town best known in the sport as Lee Westwood's home - took the first day lead in the fog-delayed Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles with a six-under-par 66.

Although his only European Tour victory remains eight years ago, Foster's season is shaping up to be easily his best yet.

He is on course to earn a place in Britain and Ireland's Seve Trophy side for the first time and says of next month's match against Continental Europe in Paris: "I've been trying hard all year to make it and if it comes around it will be a massive thing for me."

Not even a problem with wasps and bees could prevent Foster from making a flying start and establishing a one-stroke advantage over Spaniard Ignacio Garrido and Argentina's Tano Goya.

While Ryder Cupper Ross Fisher crashed to five-over as he was affected by them - he then hit back to finish with a 71 - his fellow Englishman carried on regardless and turned in a brilliant 30, no fewer than 10 shots better.

"I remember having to make a birdie putt with a wasp on the ball," he said.

"It's going to come off when you hit it and I just felt in a good place, so I hit the putt."

The former English amateur champion, who was back playing with his Walker Cup partner David Howell, had two more birdies on the front nine, but there were two bogeys as well and that kept his lead over Garrido down to a single stroke.

Foster's round came after he warmed up no fewer than three times because of the morning fog.

"I wanted to get loose and be ready to go, so it was a good sacrifice to do it," he explained.

Foster had chances to win both the BMW International and French Open this summer, but after leading with a round to go both times had to be content with finishing third one week and then joint runner-up the next.

Neither affected him as badly as last year's Spanish Open, however, when he was three clear and then lost by one after missing three-foot putts on the 16th and 18th.

"I learned a lot from that," he said. "I would say I lost that tournament through nerves really, just not controlling myself.

"But I think it took that week for me to be able to play the way I've been playing at the moment, where I have more belief in myself and know I can do it.

"I think I'm a better person and a better player."

Play did not begin until 10.10am - 160 minutes later than planned - and it meant the first second spilled into a second day.

Among the later starters were Colin Montgomerie and Jose Maria Olazabal, Ryder Cup captains past and present. They were one under and one over respectively with two to play.

Earlier in the day Liverpool's Nick Dougherty was two under after three and joint leader, but his horror run of missed cuts going back to last November looks set to reach 21 after he fell away to a 76.

Dougherty, a member of the last three Seve Trophy sides who has slumped from 46th in the world three years ago to 773rd, ran up a quadruple-bogey seven on the short sixth and was six over before closing with an eagle that does at least give him some hope of surviving to the weekend.

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