Sat, Oct 08, 2011 - Page 18 News List

McGowan grabs the lead as Donald hails skills of Seve’s son

Reuters, MADRID

Luke Donald hailed the skills of Seve Ballesteros’ eldest son Javier after the world No. 1 launched the defense of his Madrid Masters title with a 68 on Thursday.

Donald’s four-under effort left him four shots behind leader Ross McGowan of Britain, but it was Wednesday’s pro-am performance by playing partner Javier, 21, that he waxed lyrical about.

“I was very impressed with Javier, he is so like his late father,” Donald said.

“I guess the genes have been passed down. It felt like I was playing with Seve. Not that I ever had the pleasure, but I’ve watched Seve so much on TV. He had the same mannerisms,” he said.

“He told me he had two or three years left studying law and then he might try and turn pro,” the 33-year-old said.

Two uncharacteristic blemishes cost Donald dear in Thursday’s first round.

An error of judgement caused him to bogey his ninth hole, the 18th, when his three-iron approach fell short and his ball finished in the lake. Donald also missed a three-foot birdie attempt at the eighth.

McGowan made light of the slopes on the putting surfaces as he blazed his way to a 10-birdie 64.

That gave the Englishman a one-stroke lead over Australian Brett Rumford, Lorenzo Gagli of Italy and tournament promoter Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano.

McGowan won the event in 2009, but he has been in the doldrums for two years and the 29-year-old was delighted to find the Spanish capital a happy hunting ground again.

“I think I like Madrid,” McGowan said.

“That was a much better round than I’ve been putting together recently,” he said.

Tournament invitee John Daly’s day turned sour when the twice major champion found the water three times on 18 to run up a quadruple-bogey nine and slump to a 76.

The American, known as “Wild Thing,” walked off the course during his Austrian Open second round two weeks ago.

Dutchman Floris De Vries (73) was handed an unusual penalty when he was fined £500 (US$769) because his caddie did not rake a bunker on the 16th.

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