Sat, Jul 15, 2006 - Page 19 News List

UK's Johan Edfors, David Drysdale lead Scottish Open

AP , LUSS, SCOTLAND

British Masters champion Johan Edfors and Scotland's David Drysdale lead the Scottish Open after 6-under first rounds of 65 at Loch Lomond on Thursday.

Darren Clarke held third spot with Miles Tunnicliff on 66. Jose Maria Olazabal shot 67 to share fifth with Raymond Russell, Andrew Butterfield and David Bransdon.

Luke Donald, Carl Pettersson and 61-year-old Hale Irwin were among a group of players who hit 68. Irwin birdied the last five holes.

European No 1 David Howell, US Ryder Cup captain Tom Lehman, Paul McGinley and Lee Westwood shot 69. Ernie Els, Retief Goosen and Ian Poulter were among those on 70 with Sergio Garcia on 71 and Colin Montgomerie on 72.

Former Masters champion Fred Couples withdrew before play began with a back problem.

Edfors, a 30-year-old Swede who won the British Masters in May, has had six weeks off since then. It didn't show.

"I needed a break. I went swimming in the sea with my girlfriend and my family," he said.

Drysdale, 31, was playing a secondary Challenge Tour last week and is in this event by special invitation as a Scottish national.

Despite sharing the lead, Edfors was keen to praise the performance of his playing partner Irwin.

"I heard after the round what age he is, which is amazing because he can win the tournament," Edfors said.

Irwin won three US Opens in his earlier years before joining the Seniors Tour to become one of the most successful players in that category.

Drysdale said playing in his own country makes him nervous.

"Everything was okay after the first tee but, in the buildup, it's like a sick feeling in your stomach," he said.

He began his round at the 10th and birdied it from 35 feet. Five more birdies followed, including the last two holes.

"I like the greens here. They seem to suit my eye," he said.

Clarke has been in contention a few times lately but has faltered with poor fourth-round scores.

"My Sunday scoring average this year is very, very high which is totally out of character for me," said Clarke, whose wife Heather is battling cancer.

Olazabal, who unlike Clarke has almost clinched a Ryder Cup spot, was pleased with his 67 but unsure he deserved it.

"I need to improve from tee to green," the Spaniard said.

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