Englishman Fosters Lead at Johnnie Walker


European TourGLENEAGLES, Scotland -- Mark Foster posted a 4-under-par 68 in difficult conditions Thursday to take the opening-round lead of the Johnnie Walker Championship.
Twelve players are knotted in second place at 2-under-par 70 as heavy wind and showers greeted the players on Thursday at the PGA Centenary Course at The Gleneagles Hotel.
The tournament was dealt a blow early in the first round when Colin Montgomerie, who finished second to Tiger Woods at the British Open, had to withdraw during play because of a hand injury.
Montgomerie hurt his right hand when he hit his second at the 18th, his ninth hole of the round. He did more damage on the same hole when he struck his third from the heavy rough.
The Scotsman gutted it out for another four holes before withdrawing.
'It is particularly disappointing as this is a tournament I have been looking forward to all year,' said Montgomerie, who may have to pull out of next week's PGA Championship. 'The crowds were fantastic. Unfortunately for them and for the tournament I am sorry. Hopefully everyone understands I cannot play if I am not physically fit.'
Foster was certainly fit on Thursday as he opened on the back nine with back-to-back birdies at 10 and 11. He dropped a shot at the par-5 12th, but Foster parred his next five before closing his front nine with a birdie at the 18th.
Foster, who won the English Amateur Championship in 1994 and 1995, parred his first two on the second nine, then birdied No. 3. He bogeyed the fourth and birdied No. 5 to get back to 3 under par.
The 30-year-old Englishman birdied the ninth to move two clear of the field.
Foster, who earned his first European Tour victory at the 2003 dunhill championship, has struggled thus far in the 2005 season. His best finish of the campaign came at the season-opening China Open, a tie for 11th, and since then he's only posted two top-20s.
'I have been too down and too hard on myself,' said Foster. 'I have not been good enough mentally all year. Being hard on yourself can be both good and bad. When you are doing well and you are hard on yourself you do a bit more, but when you are down and are hard on yourself, I just kept pushing myself down. I need to be more upbeat and enjoy myself out on the course. It is easier said than done, but I did manage to do that today.'
Bradley Dredge, who tied for third place last week at the Scandinavian Masters, was one of the players who shot a 70 on Thursday.
Gregory Bourdy, Emanuele Canonica, Nicolas Colsaerts, Ross Drummond, Darren Fichardt, Robert Karlsson, Michael Kirk, Jonathan Lomas, David Lynn, Damien McGrane and Mark Roe joined Dredge in second place.
Paul Casey, a European Ryder Cupper, carded a 1-under 71 on Thursday and is part of a group tied for 14th. Casey, who captured this year's TCL Classic, won this title in 2001 for his first European Tour victory,
Estoril Open de Portugal winner Paul Broadhurst and Telecom Italia Open champion Steve Webster are among the large group tied with Casey three shots off the lead.
Defending champion Miles Tunnicliff opened with a 3-over 75 and is tied for 72nd place.
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles
  • Full Coverage - Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles