| 9.8°C Dublin

Veteran Lane on right path for Jo'burg crown

Barry Lane is still waiting to discover whether he will play the 650th event of his European Tour career in Abu Dhabi next week.

But winning this week's Jo'burg Open in South Africa would guarantee the 49-year-old a start -- and would also make him the oldest winner in tour history.

The chance is alive for the ex-Ryder Cup player after an opening 65 yesterday. That was three behind little-known South African Neil Schietekat and it put him in joint eighth place, but all seven players ahead of him were on the easier West Course at the Royal Johannesburg and Kensington venue yesterday.

Like fellow Englishman Danny Willett, Lane went round the much longer and tougher East layout in six under par. The field switches on the second day and then the final two rounds take place on the East.

Schietekat, not even in the world's top 1,000, led by one overnight from compatriots Charl Schwartzel and Jbe Kruger, Ulsterman Darren Clarke and England's Simon Khan and David Lynn. Scot Alastair Forsyth was one further back.

Irishman Des Smyth remains the circuit's oldest champion. He was just past his 48th birthday when he lifted the Madeira Island Open in 2001.

Lane is 50 in June and becomes eligible for seniors golf then, but will need no reminding that Greg Norman was third in the 2008 Open at 53 and 59-year-old Tom Watson went even closer at Turnberry last July.

It would be some return to form for the former British Masters champion, though. His 186th place on last season's money list was his worst since his debut in 1982.

He retained a Tour exemption by virtue of being among the 40 leading money-winners of all time -- with nearly £5m he is currently 34th on that list -- but is only second reserve for next week at the moment.

There is still a long way to go for Lane to match Sam Torrance, whose record of 705 tournaments could stand for ever.