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Early-bird Slattery tames Malmo's monster course

  • Story Highlights
  • Lee Slattery takes a one-shot lead after opening round of the SAS Masters
  • English golfer cards seven-under-par 67 on longest course in European history
  • Fred Funk shoots lowest opening round of a Senior British Open with six-under 64
  • Tom Watson brushes off his British Open heartbreak with 67 at Sunningdale
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(CNN) -- English golfer Lee Slattery made the best of his early start to take a one-shot lead after a weather-affected opening round of the SAS Masters in Sweden on Thursday.

Lee Slattery is seeking to retain his European Tour card with a strong performance in Sweden.

Lee Slattery is seeking to retain his European Tour card with a strong performance in Sweden.

The first man to tee off at 7.30 a.m. at Malmo's monster Barseback course, he birdied the first four holes to card a six-under-par 67.

That was despite bogeying the long 12th on his return from an hour-long suspension of play due to the threat of lightning.

The 30-year-old's nearest rival was Argentina's Ricardo Gonzalez, who shot seven birdies in his 66 -- two of them at his last three holes.

Slattery chipped in twice on the opening nine holes and needed just 22 putts on what, at 7,665 yards, is the longest course in European Tour history.

"The length of the course is ridiculous given the size of the greens," he told the UK Press Association. "I've not been playing my best and I woke up and just thought, 'Enjoy it and trust your swing.'

"After making the start I did it just felt like the pressure was off. The field is not as strong this week, so it's a chance to do well and secure my card -- although I'm trying not to think about that."

Slattery, who lost his tour card in 2007 by a margin of just $110, is outside the top 115 players who will retain playing rights for 2010, languishing in 136th place.

Slattery, seeking his first win on the European Tour, is ranked 497 places below the tournament's leading player, home hope Henrik Stenson.

The Ryder Cup star could manage only a level-par 73 despite a birdie at the final hole to be tied for 34th in a group off 22 players.

"I played like a pig and got away with murder," the world No. 7 said. "I didn't play well at all, but the little Seve and Houdini in me was out there."

His compatriots Klas Eriksson and Martin Erlandsson were tied for third on 69 along with Spanish duo Pablo Larrazabal and Pablo Martin, Argentina's Tano Goya and South African Branden Grace.

Meanwhile, American Fred Funk shot the lowest opening round at a Senior British Open with a six-under-par 64 at Sunningdale in England on Thursday.

The 53-year-old carded five birdies on his back nine, including one from out of a bunker at 17, to claim a two-shot lead.

He was chased by compatriots Jay Haas and Loren Roberts, the 2006 winner, plus Ireland's Des Smyth and Chris Williams of South Africa.

Tom Watson bounced back from his heartbreaking playoff defeat at the British Open at Turnberry in Scotland on Sunday to card 67.

Seeking his fourth win at the event, the 59-year-old birdied the first, fourth and fifth holes but missed an eight-foot putt at 13 which brought back memories of his painful miss at the 72nd hole at Turnberry.

The legendary American's birdie effort at 18 lipped out of the hole, leaving him tied for sixth with compatriots Tom Kite and Jerry Bruner, Australia's Greg Norman and Scotland's Sam Torrance.

Another golfing legend, Gary Player, was at the tail of the field after carding a 79 in only his second European outing this year.

The 73-year-old South African, one of only five men to win all four major tournaments, made bogey at each of his last four holes.

All About Lee SlatteryHenrik StensonFred FunkTom WatsonPGA European Tour ResultsGolf

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