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Page last updated at 17:24 GMT, Thursday, 21 August 2008 18:24 UK

Ryder hopefuls make steady starts

FIRST ROUND LEADERBOARD: GB & Ire unless stated
-6 R Muntz (Ned) -5 J Bickerton, S Hansen (Den) -4 A Noren (Swe) -3 incl J Rose, A Wall, P Price Selected others: -2 D Clarke, H Stenson (Den) -1 O Wilson +3 N Dougherty


Justin Rose (right) and Oliver Wilson
Rose (right) and Wilson are leaving it late to seal Ryder Cup places

Justin Rose, Oliver Wilson and Darren Clarke all made decent starts at the KLM Open in their efforts to secure spots in Europe's Ryder Cup team.

Rose carded a three-under-par 67, Wilson - also hoping to make his Cup debut - a 69, and Clarke hit a 68.

Rose is currently eighth in the Ryder standings, one ahead of Wilson, while Clarke needs a good performance to stand any chance of a wildcard berth.

Dutchman Rolf Muntz leads on six under after a round of 64 in Holland.

He is one shot ahead of Britain's John Bickerton and another Ryder Cup hopeful, Denmark's Soren Hansen, with Swede Alexander Noren a stroke further back on four under.

The first round at the Kennemer Golf and Country Club was hit by stormy weather at lunchtime, making things tough for the earlier starters.

Northern Ireland's Clarke bogeyed two of his last three holes during the worst of the weather, but had reached four under before that and accepted a 68 as a decent start.

"I'd much prefer to be four under, but it got pretty tricky and we were unlucky to be on two of the most difficult holes at the time," said Clarke, who has played in five Ryder Cups.

The player whose Cup hopes suffered the biggest knock was Liverpudlian Nick Dougherty.

He had got back into the running with second place at the SAS Masters in Stockholm last Sunday, but shot a three-over opening round of 73 on Thursday.

On his first hole the 26-year-old lost a ball on his second shot, while at his last - the 418-yard ninth - he was short in two, pitched over the green and failed to get up and down.

His second shot from the left-hand rough actually hit a bird on the fairway, but Dougherty could not blame that for his six and looked in a furious mood as he went to sign his card.

He is 14th in the Ryder standings with only next week's Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles to come to secure one of the top 10 earn automatic spots.




see also
European Ryder Cup rankings
17 Aug 08 |  Golf


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