Monday 20 November 2017

Micheel in Seville lead

Shaun Micheel. Photo: Getty Images
Shaun Micheel. Photo: Getty Images

American Shaun Micheel rediscovered the form that won him a Major title nine years ago to lead the Reale Seguros Spanish Open in wet and windy Seville yesterday, writes Mark Garrod.

Without a full card on his home tour and down at 608th on the world rankings, the 43-year-old former USPGA champion fired a five-under-par 67.

Nobody broke 70 during the morning, but as conditions improved Micheel made up for three bogeys with a superb eight birdies on the Jose Maria Olazabal-designed lay-out.

The Orlando-based golfer, who earned a 10-year European Tour exemption for his shock victory at Oak Hill in 2003, was a stroke in front of English duo Robert Rock and Danny Willett and Spaniard Jorge Campillo.

Rock, conqueror of Tiger Woods and world top three Luke Donald, Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood in Abu Dhabi in January, eagled the 13th and 16th on his return to action after more than a month off. That break came after his failed attempt to climb into the world's top 50 in time for the Masters, but it is the leading 60 who qualify for next month's US Open and he is currently 60th.

Scotland's Paul Lawrie, 43rd on the rankings and with a chance to go second in the Ryder Cup points race, managed only a 78 in front of captain Olazabal, himself round in 75.

Lawrie finished 24th at Augusta, but has decided not to play the US Open. Having made the halfway cut in the event only once in four attempts, he believes his cup hopes are best served by avoiding the trip to San Francisco. "If you know you can't compete in a particular tournament then why go?" he said.

Italian Francesco Molinari and 19-year-old Matteo Manassero were part of the group in on two-under, Molinari doing best of all the early starters who had to contend with lashing rain.

Campillo, a graduate from the Challenge Tour last season, led the 30-strong home contingent on the 100th anniversary of the first staging of the tournament. Alvaro Quiros, winner on the course two years ago, shot 73 and 48-year-old Miguel Angel Jimenez, yet to win his national title, had a 75.

Peter Lawrie was leading the Irish charge after a one-under-par 71 left him four off the lead. Simon Thornton was another two shots back with Damien McGrane three-over-par.

Spanish Open,

Live, Sky Sports 1, 10.30/3.30

Irish Independent

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