Lawrie begins well in Spain in search of overdue win

Paul Lawrie fired a seven-under-par 64 to share the lead after the first round of the Castello Masters in Spain.

The 41-year-old former Open champion, in search of his first win since 2002, carded seven birdies in nine holes, including four in a row from the seventh to the 10th, in a bogey-free round to head the field alongside Argentina's Ricardo Gonzalez.

The South American did not drop a shot either, two runs of three straight birdies from the third and then from the 13th propelling him up the leaderboard.

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Lawrie put his impressive opening round down to his putting.

"I putted lovely. I played solidly, I didn't play poorly, but I rolled the ball extremely well," said Lawrie.

"The greens this week are some of the best we've seen all year and when the greens are fast and they roll well I tend to hole puts so I did that (yesterday).

"When the greens are fast I normally hole my share so I'm hoping that continues."

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The leading pair were one shot ahead of England's David Horsey.

Horsey was just one under after the front nine, but picked up five more birdies in his next seven holes to put himself firmly in contention.

Four players, including Simon Khan and Hull's Richard Finch and Scotland's Gary Orr, were in a tie for fourth on five under.

Khan finished with a flourish, four of his six birdies coming in the final five holes after a bogey at the ninth had left him on level par halfway through his round.

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Orr also had a more impressive back nine, picking up four shots in three holes with a run of birdie-eagle-birdie at the 12th, 13th and 14th.

Finch had four birdies, a bogey and an eagle, also at the par-five 13th.

France's Jean-Baptiste Gonnet was the third player to card a 66, shooting five birdies in a bogey-free round.

Six players followed on four under, including Richard Bland of England, Scot David Drysdale and Northern Ireland's Michael Hoey.

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Bland and Drysdale both had eventful rounds featuring seven birdies and three bogeys, while Hoey carded six birdies and two bogeys.

Harrogate's John Parry opened his tournament with a round of 70.

Padraig Harrington is one of five European Ryder Cup-winning players who will take part in the Nedbank Golf Challenge in South Africa during early December.

The three-time major winner is joined by Englishmen Lee Westwood and Ross Fisher as well as Italy's Edoardo Molinari and Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez in the invited 12-man field.

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The tournament, which is played annually at Sun City, is celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2010.

Also among the participants will be three-time winner Ernie Els, another three-time major champion, along with fellow South Africans Tim Clark, Retief Goosen and Louis Oosthuizen, who won the the Open at

St Andrews this year.

Last year's winner Robert Allenby, from Australia, will also be playing at the Gary Player Country Club, while England's Justin Rose and Dane Anders Hansen complete the line-up.