Coltart's bid to retain card on hold

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ANDREW Coltart's tense bid to retain his European Tour Card was interrupted after just eight holes of his second round at the Mallorca Classic yesterday.

The 37-year-old Scot must finish 13th or better to avoid his first visit to the qualifying school since 1993. The two-time European Tour winner and former Ryder Cup player shot an impressive first-round 69 on Thursday but was tied for 37th place, sitting on one-over par, when play was suspended yesterday.

Play was set to resume at 7.45am this morning.

Coltart's compatriot, Alastair Forsyth, was tied for fifth after hitting three birdies from seven second-round holes. This came after a first-round score of two-under par 68.

Paul Lawrie was sitting on one under par when his round was also cut short after eight holes, while another Scot, Gary Orr, took that score to the clubhouse when he added a 69 to his opening round of 70.

Englishman Sam Little is also looking to retain his card and is looking to perform a great escape.

All looked lost for the Londoner three weeks ago when he lay outside the top 170 on the Order of Merit with only three events left to climb into the 118 and avoid an immediate return to the qualifying school.

But the 32-year-old was then joint seventh in the Madrid Open to qualify for the following week's Portugal Masters and, after finishing 34th there, now finds himself in a share of fifth place in the rain-affected Mallorca Classic.

He needs to still be inside the top 10 when the tournament finishes tomorrow evening - weather permitting - to secure his card, and at least has a fighting chance after rounds of 66 and 69 gave him a five-under-par halfway total of 135.

That was four shots behind joint leaders Robert-Jan Derksen of Holland and France's Jean-Francois Lucquin, with 54 players unable to complete their second rounds on Friday due to the knock-on effect of Thursday afternoon's thunderstorm.

"I'm looking at eighth or ninth place to be absolutely certain but I'll just try and win it and if I finish second then I'll take it," said Little, who kept his card by just 418 in 2005 but lost it last season and had to win it back at the qualifying school.

"At least it's in my own hands and I've given myself a chance to compete. I didn't play that well today but my putting has been really good and I managed to get it round.

"It was looking grim a few weeks ago but seventh in Madrid got me into Portugal and I played solidly there. It will be a great escape if I can pull it off."

Clubhouse leaders Derksen and Lucquin both returned second rounds of 65 to lie nine under par, three clear of Ireland's Peter Lawrie and Denmark's Mads Vibe-Hastrup, winner of the Madrid Open a fortnight ago.

Pre-tournament favourite Sergio Garcia, first, second and second in his three appearances in the event, was three under par after nine holes of his second round when play was suspended.

Derksen has missed just three cuts in 27 events this season but would swap such consistency for a return to the winning form which brought him victories in the Dubai Desert Classic in 2003 and Madeira Island Open in 2005.

"If the tour gave out awards for consistency it would be great but unfortunately it doesn't work like that," joked the 33-year-old, second in the Russian Open in August, albeit a distant six shots behind winner Per-Ulrik Johansson.

Former European Tour rookie of the year Peter Lawrie is still searching for his first victory and is also targeting a top-three finish to qualify for next week's season-ending Volvo Masters at Valderrama. The 33-year-old Dubliner returned to action recently after four weeks off around the birth of his second daughter Amelia, and admitted: "It certainly hampers your golf in some ways but it's very rewarding and we are both delighted.


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