Friday, December 16, 2011


MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) -- England's Ian Poulter overcame a bout of food poisoning to birdie the final two holes for a three-under 68 and a two-stroke lead after the second round of the Australian Masters today.
Poulter, who woke up feeling ill this morning after taking a one-shot lead in the first round, had a nine-under 133 overall halfway tally at Victoria Golf Club.
Matthew Giles was in second place after a 68, while fellow Australian Ashley Hall was third after a 70.
Top-ranked Luke Donald of England was at three under after a 70, while defending champion Stuart Appleby was forced to withdraw due to a painful back injury.
Greg Chalmers, also three under after a 70, is trying to become the second player to complete the Australian Triple Crown after winning the Australian Open and Australian PGA last month. Robert Allenby accomplished the feat in 2005.
Poulter lost his overnight advantage before regaining it with consecutive birdies on the two closing par-five holes.
He said the weather over the final two days would be the key for players at the head of the field.
"Wind is the protection for this golf course. If it blows a strong 30 (miles per hour) and they put the pins in tricky positions, the scoring's not really going to go anywhere."
Poulter said he was ill before he drove to the course for the start of the second round.
"I woke up this morning and wasn't good at all," he said. "Must have had something bad to eat unfortunately so I felt a bit weak out there today.
"And it showed. I hit it terrible, got myself out of position a number of times, but my short game was on and I holed a few nice putts so to look back at the round I would have taken that score."
Poulter's steady round included birdies at all three par-fives and just the one bogey.
US-based New South Welshman Matthew Giles (68) is alone in second place at seven-under, while Victorian Ashley Hall is outright third at minus six after a 70.
But there are a host of big names within touch, including local hope Geoff Ogilvy, two-time Masters champion Peter Lonard and world No.1 Luke Donald.
Ogilvy looked flat early in his round before springing to life at the par-five 9th with a chip in for eagle from the back of the green.
Four more birdies - along with one dropped shot - followed on the back nine for the Victorian as he finished the day tied with Brendan Jones, Nathan Green, Brent McCullough, Kieran Pratt and Lonard at five-under.
It looked like Lonard was going to finish higher up the leaderboard when he birdied his 8th and 9th holes, the 17th and 18th, to move into a share of the lead at seven-under, but the 44-year-old dropped three shots in a row on his back nine to finish with a 70.
Donald endured an up-and-down day that could have been considerably better, but ended up signing for a 70 to be among a host of players tied for 14th at three-under.
The Englishman actually got to four-under early in his round when he made back-to-back birdies at two of the most difficult holes on the golf course - the par-four 6th and short par-three 7th - but he found trouble at the eighth and gave back both shots immediately.
Despite his inconsistent round, Donald still thinks he remains a threat.
"I hit a lot of good shots today but I've been struggling on the greens," said Donald.
"I'm finding it hard to see the line and missing my fair share of chances for birdie."
"Hopefully I'm saving them all for the weekend."
"I'm still in a decent position, I just need to get that putter going and get on a roll."
The story of the day goes to Queenslander Steven Bowditch, who managed back-to-back eagles at consecutive par-fours to kick-start his round.
Bowditch drove the green at the short 1st and then chipped in for two at the next hole to complete the unlikely feat.
That was the highlight of Bowditch's day, with the 28-year-old finishing with a 69 to sit at three-under.
While Bowditch's story was a good one, the one of Victorian Richard Green was not.
Green was on his way to the pointy end of the leaderboard when he birdied his 11th hole, the 2nd, to move up to five-under, but he self destructed at the end of his round.
Green dropped six strokes in five holes to move back to one-over, before a birdie four at the par-five 9th allowed him to sign for a 74 and finish the day at level-par.
Italian drawcard Matteo Manassero fared much better on the second day, with the 18-year-old posting a round of 67 to follow his disastrous 76 on Thursday, while playing partner Robert Allenby carded 17 pars and one birdie to finish with a 70.
The duo finished the day in joint 47th position at one-over, one shot ahead of the cut that was made at plus two (144).
Notable players that missed the cut and won't be seen at Victoria over the weekend include veteran Australians Peter O'Malley and Paul Gow, plus New Zealander Michael Campbell and American Jeff Maggert.
Also out of the tournament is Banchory rookie James Byrne with rounds of 74 and 75 for 149.

I'm still learning, says James Byrne after missing
cut in Australian Masters

By JAMES BYRNE (in an E-mail from Australia)
Naturally I'm disappointed with the week but I'm not too down on myself. I've not been at my best this week nor in recent weeks but I am still learning at this stage in my career.
The fields I have been played in have been strong with some of the best players in the world, so it's difficult to compete with them when I'm not on top of my game.
Travelling around Asia and Australia has not been easy but golf is expanding globally and the trip will no doubt serve me well for the future.
My next event is Asian Tour School in January in Hua Hin, Thailand, so I'm looking forward to a few weeks off and the opportunity to start 2012 afresh. I'd have liked to have finished 2011 stronger, but at the same time I've played some good golf and can certainly be pleased with the year.
I saw this morning before I left to the course that Scott Pinckney (American golfing friend who was at Arizona State University at the same time as Byrne) had started well at the European Tour Final Q School, but he was still down in about 50th place.
But I told him before the last of the six rounds  that anything is possible, and for him to shoot 65 in that much pressure to secure a European Tour card is phenomenal. I can't say I'm particularly surprised as Scott excelled many times for Arizoma State in pressure situations, so I half expected him to do whatever was required.
You'll remember that in the summer of 2009 he stayed with me at Banchory and shot 64 63 at the weekend in the East of Scotland Open at Lundin Links so I think he has good memories of playing in Europe.
He will have no problems competing on the European Tour and hopefully I'll be playing alongside him a few times next year.

Par 142 (2x71)
Players from Australia unless stated
133 Ian Poulter (England) 65 68.
135 Matthew Giles 67 68.
136 Ashley Hall 68 70.
137 Brent McCullough 71 66, Kieran Pratt 67 70, Peter Lonard 67 70, Geoff Ogilvy 71 66, Brendon Jones 69 68, Mathan Green 69 68.
139 Luke Donald (England) 69 70 (T14).
143 Matteo Manassero (Italy) 76 67 (T47)

MISSED THE CUT (144 or better qualified)
145 Jeff Maggert (US) 70 75 (T65).
146 Peter O'Malley 72 74 (T69).
148 Michael Campbell (New Zealand) 72 76 (T89).
149 James Byrne (Scotland) 74 75 (T95).



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