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Spaniards Garcia, Lara lead in Spain

By wire services
Published October 29, 2004

SOTOGRANDE, Spain - Sergio Garcia shot 4-under-par 67 in the wind Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Volvo Masters with fellow Spaniard Jose Manuel Lara, who was stung by a bee early in his round.

Garcia, who won in Mallorca two weeks ago, survived a tough day on the Valderrama course where the Ryder Cup was played seven years ago.

Lara was bothered for a while after the bee sting on the fifth hole, but he regrouped and birdied five of the last 10 holes.

"I putted very well," he said. "The greens are fantastic. If you can read them, the ball goes exactly where you hit it."

At this event, which ends the European PGA Tour season, there is no halfway cut. The European Order of Merit title, usually decided at this tournament, already has been won by Ernie Els, who is not playing.

Brian Davis and Alastair Forsyth were at 68, with Luke Donald, Peter O'Malley, Christian Cevaer and Jonathan Lomas at 69. Colin Montgomerie, who won at this course in 1993 and shared the title with Bernhard Langer two years ago, shot 75.

"I left all my putts short," he said. "I couldn't get the speed of the greens."

The greens were slow Thursday after heavy rain, but they suited Garcia. His only mistake came on a 6-iron shot in the wind at No. 3. It went over the green and settled in the rough.

"I've always said I really enjoy it when a course is tough," he said. "If your ball striking is good you don't have to be thinking that you have to make every single putt."

TOURING CHINA: The European tour will feature three, and possibly four, tournaments in China next season.

The new schedule, released Thursday, begins Nov. 25-28 with the China Open in Shanghai. The Hong Kong Open is the following week.

The third tournament in China most likely will be the Johnnie Walker Classic on April 21-24, and tour officials are expected to confirm Beijing as the venue. The Asian Open is a week later in Shanghai.

The key change has the World Match Play Championship moving to Sept. 15-18 from its traditional October date. The move was made in an effort to lure more top players.

[Last modified October 28, 2004, 23:50:16]


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