Thursday, 06 October 2011
Ross McGowan  (Getty Images)
Ross McGowan (Getty Images)
Ross McGowan returned to form in sensational style to lead the Bankia Madrid Masters after the opening round.

The 29 year old Englishman won his only European Tour title when this event was staged at Centro Nacional de Golf two years ago, en route to finishing 12th on the 2009 Race to Dubai.

A persistent wrist injury then saw him miss out on Colin Montgomerie’s Ryder Cup side for The Celtic Manor Resort and McGowan’s best finish this year was 18th in the Africa Open at the start of the season.

Down at 161st on The Race to Dubai and in danger of losing his card, McGowan produced his lowest European Tour round for three years with an eight under par 64.

That gave him a one shot lead over Australian Brett Rumford, Italy's Lorenzo Gagli and tournament host Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño, who thrilled the home fans until a three-putt bogey at the final hole cost him a share of the overnight lead.

“I think I like Madrid,”said McGowan. “That was a much better round than I’ve been putting together recently.

“I got off to a good start, birdied the first two, and just kept trying to hit good golf shots - that was the key. I kept finding the right spots on the greens and holing the putts.

“It’s been a  pretty tough year with a couple of injuries but it’s been improving week to week and this week it really seems to have come together.”

McGowan had three birdies in his first four holes at El Encin Golf Hotel before a bogey at the sixth.

But a sparkling run of five successive birdies from the ninth propelled him into the lead - the highlights coming with a 30 foot putt at the 12th and an approach to seven feet at the next.

The former Challenge Tour graduate failed to get up-and-down from the edge of the 15th green but responded to that bogey with a birdie at the next and finished with a pitch to two feet at the last for an amazing tenth birdie.

Like McGowan, Rumford and Fernandez-Castaño are outside the all-important top 115 on The Race to Dubai, although the Spaniard has missed most of the season with a back problem.

Gagli finished his round with a hattrick of birdies to match their 65s to be one ahead of Italy’s Edoardo Molinari - the Ryder Cup star performing best of the morning starters in the Spanish capital.

Big-hitting home favourite Alvaro Quiros was amongst those on five under, with World Number One and defending champion Luke Donald a shot further back.

“I felt like I left a few out there,” said Donald. “A couple of careless mistakes but a lot of solid golf in there too.”

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
2GAGLI, LorenzoITA18-14
T3DE LA RIVA, EduardoESP18-12
5AIKEN, ThomasRSA18-10
T6HANSON, PeterSWE18-9
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