Jean Van de Velde edges clear
Frenchman Jean Van de Velde put years of injury problems behind him as he took a two-shot lead in the Madeira Island Open on Saturday.
He shot a one-under-par 71 in windy conditions at Santo da Serra, where low cloud caused a four-hour delay, to reach 11-under 205, ahead of former winner Pedro Linhart of Spain.
Swede Jarmo Sandelin, tied on top with Van de Velde after two rounds, is a further stroke back with Britons Simon Wakefield and Lee Slattery and Ireland's Damien McGrane.
This time last year Van de Velde decided to take a last throw of the dice with his career. After three years of knee problems that virtually took him out of the game he regained his card by finishing second in the 2005 French Open.
Now the man who famously lost the 1999 British Open by triple-bogeying the 72nd hole at Carnoustie is looking to complete the job by securing only his second win after 13 years following his success at the Rome Masters back in 1993.
After a faultless first nine holes in which he picked up two birdies, the 39-year-old Van de Velde had to survive the troublesome wind and a potentially round-wrecking shot.
On the short fourth he hit down a ravine but took a penalty and salvaged a bogey by pitching to five feet and holing out.
"I had a hell of break on the fourth but I played well in tough conditions," said the leader.
"At this time last year, February-March, I was just trying to play again after three failed comebacks.
"Then I started to play golf again, got my card, played in the British Open, played in the Volvo Masters and now I'm leading. You could call it a resurrection.
"I had a baby boy three months ago, so I'm a lucky man."
Linhart's 69 has given him a chance to get his career on track as well. After winning in Madeira in 1999 he disappeared from the European Tour and has played mainly on the Spanish tour.
Van de Velde's 1999 Ryder Cup team mate Sandelin, the 1996 winner in Madeira, is also reviving his fortunes after losing his card for the first time last year though he lost ground on Saturday with a 74.
Slattery's 66 was the best round of the day as the Englishman hit back from an early triple-bogey at the fourth.