McDowell leads in the clubhouse

On a day when two leaders have run into trouble Graeme McDowell has secured the early clubhouse lead at Valderrama.

On a day when two leaders have run into trouble and lost ground, Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell has quietly secured the early clubhouse lead in the Andalucia Valderrama Masters on the Sotogrande in Spain.

McDowell, the reigning US Open Champion and one of the heroes-in-chief at the recent Ryder Cup battle at Celtic Manor earlier this month, did it by posting a solid 3-under 69 on a tough Ryder Cup venue that is giving very little away.

At the time when he was signing his card, it put him a shot clear of fellow Ulster man Gareth Maybin, also back in the clubhouse after a 2-under 70 and tied for second with a group that included Frenchman Raphael Jacquelin (after 10 holes), Englishmen Robert Rock (after 10) and John Parry (after 7), India’s SSP Chowrasia (after 4) and Argentina’s Ricardo Gonzalez (after 3).

Earlier tournament leaders Francisco Molinari of Italy, who stumbled with a double bogey on the short 15th, and Oskar Henningson, who took over the lead at 4-under from Molinari only to run into trouble himself with a double bogey at the par-three 12th and a bogey at the par-4 14th holes, are both at 1-under in a nine-strong log jam of players that included last week’s Tour winner Richard Green of Australia.

Molinari is back in the clubhouse after shooting a 70 while Henningson, who lead at 4-under after a birdie at the 11th, had three holes left to recover his lost shots.