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Pro golfer sues dog owner over bite

A golfer who claims he could have been a Ryder Cup contender if a dog had not ruined his game by biting his finger claimed more than £1m compensation from the dog's owner yesterday.

Andrew Raitt says he could not grip his club properly after the tip of his little finger was bitten off by an alsatian named Zomba at the St George's Hill Golf Club in Weybridge, Surrey.

He is claiming £1.1m damages from Zomba's owner, Jeremy Lunn, who he says failed to control his alsatian when it attacked his own dog, Nikki, in June 1995. Mr Raitt, 33, lost half a centimetre from the top of his finger when he tried to separate the two animals, and claims the injury prevented him from impressing in the PGA European Tour and becoming a Ryder Cup player.

He told the High Court he had suffered "substantial loss of power, control and consistency" since the attack.

Nicholas Stewart QC, for Mr Raitt, said the permanent loss of sensation in the tip of his little finger had serious consequences for his game. He said Mr Raitt's success and earning power were similar to the professional golfer David Howell. But Jonathan Marks QC, for Mr Lunn, said Mr Raitt had "achieved nothing" in comparison. Mr Marks said Mr Howell had earned £315,000 by the time he was 24 and had been internationally successful for five years by the time he was 26, the age at which Mr Raitt had his accident. The case continues.

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