AUSTRALIAN Scott Strange played the second half of Celtic Manor’s new 2010 Ryder Cup course in just 28 strokes yesterday to lead the Wales Open.
The 31-year-old from Perth birdied all but two of the nine holes for a brilliant eight-under-par 63 which put him one ahead of Italy’s Edoardo Molinari after a day that began with a 105-minute fog delay.
Open champion Padraig Harrington managed only a 70, however, while last week’s PGA Championship winner Miguel Angel Jimenez struggled through 11 holes in eight over before withdrawing with a left knee problem.
Strange’s round actually began on the long 11th because of the lay-out of the course and, after grabbing a birdie at his second hole, he then finished the inward half with five more in a row.
After covering the front nine in 35 he then completed his day’s work with a two on the 210-yard 10th.
The European Tour record for nine holes is 27 but Strange would not have been added to that list if he improved his score by one because placing was allowed on the wet fairways.
Former US amateur champion Edoardo Molinari had a remarkable tale to tell after his 64. The career of the 27-year-old from Turin has been re-ignited by using a gumshield to ease a tendon problem in his left wrist.
“My dad is a dentist and he didn’t believe it,” said Molinari, who was recommended the shield by a member of the AC Milan medical team. “Four or five days later there was no pain. He said the muscles down my left side were affected when I closed my mouth.”
It looked as though Jimenez had suffered a major meltdown as he ran up three double bogeys.
But the explanation for some shocking figures came when the Spaniard pulled out rather than risk aggravating his knee with the US Open only two weeks away.
“I’ve been receiving treatment for the past two afternoons, but there was no point carrying on,” he said. “The pain was at its worst when I was playing from a sideways lie.”
Colin Montgomerie, who missed the cut at Wentworth for the first time since his 1989 debut, turned in a better performance with a 69 after switching to a putting routine where he looks at the target rather than the ball.
“Most peculiar, very weird — in any ball game you’re supposed to watch the ball,” he said. “But it’s amazing. It takes away all the worrying about the stroke.”
Danny Willett began his professional career with a 70, having made the decision last week to leave the amateur ranks when ranked world number one.
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