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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 October, 2003, 17:34 GMT 18:34 UK
Casey ahead in Spain
Paul Casey shot an eight under par 63
63 Paul Casey (GB)
64 Sergio Garcia (Spa)
65 Robert Karlsson (Swe) Padraig Harrington (Ire)
66 Nick O'Hern (Aus)
Selected others:
68 Lee Westwood (GB)
73 Nick Faldo (GB)
76 Seve Ballesteros (Spa)
77 Sandy Lyle (GB)

Paul Casey leads the Telefonica Madrid Open after shooting an eight under par 63 in the first round.

But Sandy Lyle is on the verge of losing the European tour card he has retained for 25 years following a miserable six over 77.

Casey is one stroke ahead of Sergio Garcia and two in front of Padraig Harrington and Robert Karlsson at Club de Campo.

Lyle, however, is close to last and having run up two double bogeys and three bogeys.

The 45-year-old Scot needs a top nine finish to have any hope of keeping his place among the tour's top 40 career money-winners.

Failure to do so will mean he has to seek special invitations from sponsors to play a full schedule next season.

Casey's round did not count as a course record-equalling effort as placing was allowed on the wet fairways. But he was still delighted.

The 26-year-old said: "I didn't expect much after two weeks off and not hitting it well the last two days.

"I was working on some stuff, but then decided to throw it out of the window and forget about how I was swinging it."

Sandy Lyle

Casey collected seven birdies and also an eagle at the 518-yard fourth, where he struck a two-iron 240 yards uphill to 20 feet.

Garcia had two eagles, first sinking a 103-yard wedge to the fifth and then making an 18-footer on the long seventh.

Garcia needed to play this week to make sure of appearing in next week's Volvo Masters at Valderrama.

For the first time only the top 60 on the Order of Merit qualify and he is currently 58th.

Harrington enjoyed himself again at one of his happiest hunting grounds.

His first tour win was the 1996 Spanish Open and three years ago he was successful on the course once more.

Lee Westwood and Ian Woosnam both had three under 68s along with 41-year-old defending champion Steen Tinning - almost certainly playing his last Tour event because of back trouble.

But Nick Faldo dropped four strokes in his last four holes for a 73.

Seve Ballesteros, diagnosed with arthritis in his back last month, looks set to miss yet another halfway cut after a 76.

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