Telefonica Open de Madrid
Telefonica Open de Madrid
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Harrington on course for title defence

Padraig Harrington grabbed the lead in no uncertain terms in the opening round of the Telefonica Madrid Open today when he shot an incident-filled 8-under 63 to equal the Spanish Capital's majestic Club de Campo course record.

The smooth swinging Irishman fired eight birdies and an eagle - and might well have been 10 under but for bogies at the 5th and 16th holes.

It put him a shot ahead of Scotland's Stephen Gallacher, two in front of fellow Irishman Des Smythe and Spaniards Miguel Angel Jimenez and Carlos Rodiles, and three ahead of a group of players that included Volvo Order Of Merit leader Retief Goosen, Phillip Price of Wales and England's Barry Lance, Andrew Marshall, Robert Coles and Brian Davis.

Goosen, who can virtually seal his place as Europe's first non-European No 1 golfer of the year since Greg Norman in 1982 if he can finish reasonably high up here, had a cool, flawless round that included five birdies and no dropped shots.

Darren Clarke, currently lying second on the European Order of Merit, but needing to win both this and the season's final European tour event, the Volvo Masters, to have any hope of edging past Goosen for Lee Westwood's European Crown, also had a reasonable, though not spectacular round.

The burly Ulsterman finished in the large group on four under.

For Harrington the Club de Campo brings back happy memories.

In 1996 it was the scene of his maiden European Tour success in the Peugeot Open de España and last year he won here again in the BBVA Open Turespaña Masters Communidad de Madrid.

Harrington then carded a 17-under par total of 267 to hold off the spirited challenge of Scotland's Gary Orr with Sweden's Per-Ulrik Johansson in third, and although the tournament has changed title sponsors since then, the Irishman remains the defending champion.

In today's sparkling form he certainly looks like the man to beat - especially now that he thinks he has found the secret to breaking his 2001 'nice guys come second' bogey

 

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