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1 September 2005

Omega European Masters - First Round

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Favourites Garcia and Donald one shot off leading trio

Four birdies on the first nine holes got title holder Luke Donald off to a good start on his first round. A similar performance after the turn, with only one dropped shot at the 17th hole, brought him home 5 under par and in hot pursuit of the leaders. As with many players, Donald admitted to enjoying being in Crans-Montana and back in Europe for a spell, praising the family feeling and the fact that the "guys hang out together more off the course". Though he confessed that the course seems to suit his game, he did admit that it could be more difficult to get near the pins over the weekend as the warm weather firms them up even more.

Omega ambassador Sergio Garcia started on excellent form with five birdies on his first nine holes, including a superb 22ft. chip into the hole on the third and a bunker save on the 5th. His game only wavered slightly after bogeying the 10th, before he recovered with another birdie on the 15th. Even a penalty drop in front of the grandstand on the 18th hole after a bad choice of club on the approach did not bring El Nino out of phase as he managed to save par on the last hole to stay in contention on 5 under.

The two favourites were, together with Sweden’s Peter Hedblom, nevertheless one shot behind those on a three-way tie for the lead. The three outsiders David Carter, Jarmo Sandelin and Garry Houston on 6 under all rank below 100 in the Order of Merit. Will they be able to keep their lead in the face of such tough competition?

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