Date: May 30, 2008

Strange leads in Wales

Australian Scott Strange played the second half of Celtic Manor&aposs new 2010 Ryder Cup course in just 28 strokes to lead the Wales Open after the opening round. 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&aposs Edoardo Molinari after a day that had begun with a 105-minute fog delay. Open champion Padraig Harrington managed only a 70, however, while last week&aposs PGA Championship winner Miguel Angel Jimenez struggled through 11 holes in eight-over before withdrawing with a left knee problem. Strange&aposs 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&aposs work with a two on the 210-yard 10th. The European Tour record for nine holes is 27 – five players have done that, including Robert Lee on two occasions – 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 Molinari, older brother of 2006 Italian Open champion Francesco, 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&apost 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&aposs making a huge difference. Before I was shooting really high numbers and for a week I could hardly lift a club.” “My father believes it now.” It looked as though Jimenez had suffered a major meltdown – or too much Rioja – 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&aposve 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&aposre supposed to watch the ball,” he said. “But it&aposs amazing. It takes away all the mental approach of worrying about the stroke.” “I&aposve been fearful somehow and I&aposve got to reduce that fear by following through. This is the best technique for that.” Australian Peter O&aposMalley is in a large group of players alongside Montgomerie at two-under, with New Zealand&aposs Mark Brown a stroke further back. Peter Fowler is tied for 70th after an even-par round, while another Kiwi, Gareth Paddison, is two-over. First Round Scores from the Celtic Manor Wales Open, Wales -8: Scott Strange (Australia) 63 -7: Eduardo Molinari 64 -6: Jeev Singh 65, Alvaro Velasco 65 -5: Magnus Carlsson 66, Ricardo Gonzalez 66, Raphael Jacquelin 66, Ross McGowan 66, Paul Waring 66 -4: Nick Dougherty 67, Rafa Echenique 67, Gonzalo Fdez-Castano 67, Ross Fisher 67, Alastair Forsyth 67, Robert Karlsson 67, Hennie Otto 67 -3: Robert Dinwiddie 68, Soren Hansen 68, Sam Little 68, Rory Mcilroy 68 Also: -2: Peter O&aposMalley (Australia) 69 -1: Mark Brown (New Zealand) 70 Par: Peter Fowler (Australia) 71 +2: b>Gareth Paddison (New Zealand) 73