Leader Molinari has a gum tale to tell

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FORMER American Amateur champion Edoardo Molinari had a remarkable tale to tell yesterday after a seven-under-par 64 gave him the lead in the Wales Open at Celtic Manor.

The 27-year-old Italian's career has been re-ignited by using a gumshield to ease a tendon problem in his left wrist.

"My dad is a dentist and he didn't believe it," said Molinari, who was recommended the shield by a member of the AC Milan medical team.

"Four or five days later there was no pain. He said the muscles down my left side were affected when I closed my mouth. It's making a huge difference. Before I was shooting really high numbers and for a week I could hardly lift a club. My father believes it now."

Molinari, himself a Juventus fan, had seven birdies on the course that will stage the 2010 Ryder Cup and that gave him a one-stroke lead over Indian Jeev Milkha Singh.

More than half the field had still to finish their first rounds, however, because of a 105-minute fog delay at the start of the day.

Open champion Padraig Harrington, making his debut in the event, was one under after four, while Colin Montgomerie was in with a two- under 69 after adopting a new putting style of not looking at the ball.

"It's a very peculiar feeling, but it gives me a longer follow-through," said Montgomerie, who last week missed his first cut at Wentworth since his debut in 1989.

Miguel Angel Jimenez, winner of the BMW PGA title on Sunday, lasted only 11 holes before withdrawing with a left ankle problem. The Spaniard was eight over and joint last at the time. He hopes to be back to full fitness for the US Open in two weeks.

Yorkshireman Danny Willett began his professional career with a one-under-70, having bowed out of the amateur game as world No1.

Of the other Scots who finished their rounds, Gary Orr and Marc Warren had 70s and Craig Lee a 73, one ahead of David Drysdale.

Meanwhile, Michelle Wie shot a four-under 68 in the first round of the German Women's Open at Golfpark Gut Hausern in Munich.

The 18-year old American finished four strokes behind the early leader, Nina Reis of Sweden. Britain's Lora Fairclough shot 66 with compatriot Natalie Booth on 67.

Wie birdied three of her first five holes but failed to take advantage on the par fives. She birdied the 17th coming in.