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Friday, 19 March 2010

After a three year career that should be described as something of an insane roller coaster, Englishman John E Morgan, the epileptic golfer who took the US PGA Tour by storm in 2003, returned to the European Challenge Tour in typical style, laughing and joking his way into a share of the lead with Spain’s Ivo Giner and Finland’s Toni Karjalainen at the Telenet Trophy in Belgium.

Morgan graduated the Challenge Tour in 2002, but instead of taking his place on The 2003 European Tour with the 14 other Challenge Tour winners, he went to America and won a place on the richest circuit in the world at the US PGA Tour Qualifying School.

Not one to be backwards about coming forwards, Morgan, from Bristol, soon befriended Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh and Jim Furyk to name but a few, and captivated the American golfing public with some mesmerising performances and his bright blue hairstyle.

The Englishman looked to have cracked America with three top ten finishes, including a rousing second place finish at the 2004 John Deere Classic, but it was all taken away from him on one fateful plane journey as a violent epileptic seizure left him with a ruptured sternum.

That fit signalled the beginning of a horrendous series of injuries and misfortunes that have resulted in Moran relying on invitations to play the game he loves. He is certainly making the most of his invite to play at the Limburg Golf and Country Club in Belgium, posting an opening round of six under par 66 to share the lead with Giner and Karjalainen.

“It’s been a serious mental and physical roller coaster,” smiled Morgan after signing his card yesterday. It’s been a hell of a career so far – it went boom and ended up with a big bang!

“But I am just delighted to be back playing and to be given the chance to prove I can play on the Challenge Tour. I have to thank them for inviting me and I hope I can show that I can still play this game because I love it.”

Giner sought his inspiration for his outstanding opening round by watching his beloved Barcelona defeating Arsenal in Wednesday night’s UEFA Champions League final. The Catalan 29 year old put together a stunning ‘back’ nine at the Limburg Golf and Country Club to move into a share of the lead.

“I had five birdies on the back nine and really had it going after a strange start to the day. I felt that I was going to struggle as soon as I woke up this morning, but maybe it was Barca who inspired me.

“It was a tough match for them because they had to play against a strong Arsenal defence, but Henrik Larsson came on and made the difference for us and hopefully I can keep the Spanish success going this week because I have been playing well and I am just waiting for my week to come when I can win again.”

Karjalainen, meanwhile, adopted a new and relaxed approach to his game as he looks to add a second Challenge Tour title to the Thomas Björn Open presented by Multidata crown he won on his way to finishing 20th on the 2005 Rankings.

“I just decided to free my mind and let the rest follow and it seemed to work,” said Karjalainen.

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Tournament Leaderboard

PosPlayer NameNatHolePar
1KARJALAINEN, ToniFIN18-14
T2GINER, IvóESP18-13
T2LOCKERBIE, GaryENG18-13
4CALMELS, FrançoisFRA18-11
T5ECHENIQUE, RafaARG18-9
T5GONNET, Jean-BaptisteFRA18-9
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