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Paul Lawrie shares lead at Castello Masters in Spain

First round leaderboard:
-7 P Lawrie (Sco), R Gonzalez (Arg) -6 D Horsey (Eng) -5 J-B Gonnet (Fra), S Khan (Eng), G Orr (Sco), R Finch (Eng)
Selected others: -2 T Hamilton (US), -1 A Coltart (Sco) Level S Garcia (Sp) -2 JM Olazabal


Paul Lawrie in aciton in Spain
Lawrie had a run of seven birdies in nine holes

Scotland's Paul Lawrie shares the lead on seven under par after the first round of the Castello Masters.

Lawrie shot a 64 to set the pace with Argentine Ricardo Gonzalez.

England's David Horsey is a shot behind in second while compatriots Simon Khan and Richard Finch, and Scotland's Gary Orr, are among the group on five under.

Spain's Sergio Garcia returned from his two-month break with a level-par 71, while Jose Maria Olazabal, playing only his second event of the year, had a 73.

Lawrie, 41, enjoyed a run of seven birdies in nine holes, from the fifth to the 13th, at the Club de Campo del Mediterraneo on Spain's east coast.

606: DEBATE
Golfrage

The 1999 Open champion has slumped to 225th in the world after an eight-year run without a victory on the European Tour, but believes he could be ready to start climbing up the rankings again.

"I have started playing well again, finishing 22nd and 27th in my last two tournaments, and that could easily have been better if I had holed a few putts," said Lawrie.

"But here I played pretty solidly. I created a lot of chances and converted a lot of them, which makes a real difference.

"The greens were great, they were really fast and smooth and when they are like that I tend to putt well."

Garcia is not only a member at the Meditarreneo host course but promotes the event he won on its inception in 2008.

The 30-year-old admitted he was nervous following a break from the game after a poor run of form.

"I kept poking my head above water then every time I did so I'd screw up on the next hole," said Garcia, who was one of Colin Montgomerie's vice-captains at the Ryder Cup after failing to make the team for Celtic Manor.

"It was pretty much what I deserved. I didn't play that great. I felt a bit nervous at times, just at playing again."

Olazabal's season has been seriously affected by acute rheumatism.

"Given the circumstances I played OK. I have not been able to practice for a long time and while I could not say I played well neither did I play badly," he said.

Horsey was only one under after the front nine, but picked up five more birdies in his next seven holes to put himself firmly in contention.

Six players are on four under, including Richard Bland of England, Scot David Drysdale and Northern Ireland's Michael Hoey.



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