<
>

Lafeber shoots 64 in rain storm to lead in Ireland

7/5/2007 - Golf

STRAFFAN, Ireland -- Maarten Lafeber of the Netherlands shot a 6-under 64 in persistent rain over a shortened course Thursday to take a one-stroke lead after the first round of the European Open.

Niclas Fasth, Jyoti Randhawa, Robert Rock and Gregory Havret were at 65 at the K Club on a layout reduced by 653 yards because of heavy rain all week. Graeme McDowell even found a frog on the line of his putt on the last green.

"It was very much a grind out there," Lafeber said. "You had to keep the ball on the fairway because the rough was near unplayable and you could lose a ball there very easily."

Former U.S. Open champion Michael Campbell shot a 68 and Colin Montgomerie was at 69. Angel Cabrera, in his first round since he won the U.S. Open last month, had a 71, as did tournament favorite Padraig Harrington.

"I'm really happy to be back on the European tour," Cabrera said. "But I hit a few poor shots today and I am not pleased with 1-over."

The 18th hole was cut from a par-5 of 578 yards to a par-3 of 162 yards. Six other holes were reduced to create a par 70 instead of 72.

Argentina's Andres Romero aced the 203-yard 17th and won a car and $40,000.

"I can't wait to hit the beaches in Argentina with the roof down once I get the car shipped home," he said.