Pair of relative unknowns fire 65 to take lead

Updated: August 8, 2002, 5:21 PM ET
Associated Press

NEWPORT, Wales -- James Kingston of South Africa and Richard Green of Australia each shot 7-under-par 65s Thursday to share the first-round lead in the Wales Open.

Kingston, a 36-year-old trying to reach the European Tour, took advantage of superb morning conditions. Green played through afternoon rain later.

They led by one stroke over Ryder Cup captain Sam Torrance, who fired a 66 after almost missing his tee time, and Bradley Dredge of Wales.

Kingston, who qualified for last month's British Open with rounds of 62-69, then shot 76-81 in the Open itself, had a special invitation to play.

"I hit a lot of fairways and kept the ball in play,'' he said of Thursday's round. "I hit a lot of good iron shots on the front nine and just never made any mistakes.''

Green said his birdie putt at the last hole lipped out.

"It was 4 feet. Most putts today were left to right but that one was right to left,'' he said.

Torrance said because he began Wednesday's Pro-Am event at 1:30 p.m., he had the same time fixed in his mind for Thursday, when in fact he was due to tee-off at 1:10 p.m.

He had to be called from the driving range by a tournament official and after leaping over a fence around the putting green, he made it to the tee with 10 seconds to spare.

"I missed it once before in Singapore years ago. I slept in,'' he said.

Despite playing in driving afternoon rain, he swept into contention.

Dredge, a 29-year-old Welshman who has never won in five years on the European Tour, drove well and dropped just one shot, at the 15th, but got it back immediately with a birdie at the next.

Darren Clarke produced a solid 68 in his first event after two weeks off, while another Ryder Cup player, defending champion Paul McGinley, was another stroke behind after a 69 that he called "my best golf in quite a long time.''

Clarke was not surprised to play such a good round despite his two weeks away in Portugal.

"I hit it OK on the range yesterday, not bad in the Pro-Am then OK on the range again,'' he said. "I played very nicely. I hit 18 greens. I can't remember when I last hit every green.''

Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland, winner of last Sunday's Scandinavian Masters, shot a 73.

Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press