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Thursday, 25 March 2010
Joost Luiten  (Getty Images)
Joost Luiten (Getty Images)

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Four days after Rhys Davies won in Morocco the Welsh flag was flying high again in Malaga this morning - thanks this time to Bradley Dredge.

With The European Tour finally reaching European soil for the first time this season Dredge set the early clubhouse target in the Open de Andalucia de Golf after a four under par 66 at Parador de Málaga Golf.

The 36 year old believes Davies, 12 years his junior, could become a contender for the first-ever Ryder Cup in Wales this October, but he has not yet given up hope of being at The Celtic Manor Resort himself.

"For us Welsh guys this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," said Dredge, who finished second in the first qualifying event in Switzerland last September, but has since dropped to 21st on the points list.

"I've got to win some tournaments basically. Unfortunately I've not played well enough to get in the majors or world championships, but I know what I have to do."

Dredge had six birdies, but also spun a wedge into the water on the 305 yard third, his 12th, and finished with another bogey.

He was joined by Dutch golfer Joost Luiten, while out on the course former Open Championship winner Paul Lawrie was also four under with three to play.

Luiten has been plagued by a wrist injury since the start of his rookie season on The European Tour in 2008, but after a specialist hockey doctor resolved the issue he now appears to be back to his best and has only missed one cut so far this season.

The highlight of his round was back-to-back birdies at the seventh and eighth as he negotiated the course without dropping a shot.

David Howell, who has dropped from ninth in the Official World Golf Rankings to a current position of 408th, had an eventful 69.

Four birdies in his first seven holes, including a chip-in at the short 11th, put the ex-Ryder Cup star top of the leaderboard, but then came a double bogey at the 449 yard 18th.His drive was pulled left into the trees and could not found in the permitted five minutes.

That meant a long walk back to the tee and just as he was hitting again his coach Clive Tucker found the original in the semi-rough on the other side of the fairway - but too late.

"I'm blaming my dad," he said after his round. "I gave him a pair of binoculars last night, but he never saw it."

Tournament host Miguel Angel Jiménez, one of the favourites for the €166,660 first prize, was down on two over after 16 holes.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1DAVIES, RhysWAL18-25
2OOSTHUIZEN, LouisRSA18-23
T3ILONEN, MikkoFIN18-18
T3GARRIDO, IgnacioESP18-18
T3LEVET, ThomasFRA18-18
T3AIKEN, ThomasRSA18-18
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