Owen Leads Woosnam Ryder Cuppers


Greg Owen fired a 6-under-par 66 to take a one-shot lead over Ian Woosnam after the first round of the Benson & Hedges International at The Belfry.
The 30-year-old Englishman is still seeking his first victory on the European Tour; a sharp contrast to Woosnam, who has 29 career European titles. Woosnam has never won this event, but has won on this venue, at the 1986 Lawrence Batley TPC.
The Belfry will play host to the postponed Ryder Cup in September. Ten of the 12 European Ryder Cuppers are in attendance this week in Sutton Coldfield, England. Of the ten, half broke par in round one. Niclas Fasth was the low team member with a 2-under 70.
Captain's picks Sergio Garcia and Jesper Parnevik are competing in the PGA Tour's Verizon Byron Nelson Classic in Dallas, Texas.
John Daly, who suffered an allergic reaction to medication late last week, lumbered to a 70. The Americans last two victories have come on foreign soil, the 1995 British Open at St. Andrews, Scotland and last years BMW International in Germany.
Owen made a name for himself in last years Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St. Annes. He led through 35 holes and made an albatross-2 at the par-5 11th in the third round. He eventually tied for 23rd.
'I know a lot of players say they think a win is just around the corner, but I feel I'm a more complete player than I was in the Open and think that experience will hold me in good stead,' said Owen, who is staying at his home, an hour from the course.
Thursday, Owen recorded seven birdies to just one bogey. Woosnam dropped a couple of shots during his round, but offset them with an eagle-2 at the par-4 11th. Starting on the back nine, the Welshman holed a 7-iron from 140 yards on his second hole of the day. He went on to post five birdies to his card.
Woosnam, who is vice-captain to Sam Torrance in the Ryder Cup, shook off flu-like symptoms and an aching back to make a bid for his first official tour win since 1997.
He's also made some adjustments in his swing, as well as his equipment.
'I've gone back to a short putter. It broke my heart to use a long one - I didn't feel I was playing the game right.
'What the adjustments also do, though, is hurt my back. It's like trying to open a rusty gate.'
Full-field scores from the Benson & Hedges International Open