Friday, April 20, 2012


TIANJIN, April 20 - England's Gary Boyd and Jean-Baptiste Gonnet from France shot a pair of five-under-par 67s on Friday to share the lead after two rounds of the Volvo China Open at Binhai Lake Golf Club in Tianjin.
They go into the weekend at 11 under par, a shot ahead of South African Branden Grace and two in front of defending champion Nicolas Colsaerts, from Belgium, who both also recorded 67s.
The U.S $3 million tournament, which is co-sanctioned by OneAsia and the European tour, is being played for the first time at the links-style Binhai Lakes course, which at 7,667 yards is one of the longest on either circuit. A cold snap and gusting winds made playing conditions even tougher, and the cut was made at two-under 142.
Boyd, whose only professional win was the European Challenge Tour's Tusker Kenyan Open in 2009, offset six birdies with a lone bogey.
“It was good today because the conditions were tough," he said afterwards. "It was cold and windy out there so it makes the score all the more satisfying."
He credited a return to his old coach for getting his head straight after fiddling too much with his game.
"I was a bit lost in too many thoughts and trying too many different things for a while and that is not something that you want to be doing in tournament golf," he said.
“There wasn’t a lot wrong there but this is such a mental game that if the confidence slips a little bit it can just start to multiply the problems pretty quickly and all of a sudden you are down on yourself."
Gonnet also credits a rethink about why he plays with a much improved game recently.
“ I know this is a job but, for me, I have to enjoy it and remember why I started playing this game," he said.
"I have to go back to the five year old kid I was and try to play for fun. That will be the main aim for the weekend  -- to go out there and try to enjoy it because there is no point in playing the game if you are not having fun.”
South African rookie Grace, a two-time European tour winner already this season, continued his excellent form with a blemish-free round that included an eagle on the par four seventh.
"I thought about it and realised that I had been driving the ball really good today so I went for it and hit it straight at it, got a nice bounce forward to five feet and rolled the putt in."
Grace, who earned his European Tour card at Q school last year, has made an immediate impact having won the Joburg Open and Volvo Golf Champions tournament over successive weekends in South Africa in January, victories that propelled him into the world's top 100.
Colsaerts, whose only European Tour win was at this event last year, has enjoyed his new-found fame in China.
“It’s pretty cool being the defending champion and I have a nice Chinese crowd with me now, following me and asking for autographs," he said.
“It’s nice to get the attention and the more you play with the TV cameras on you and with the big name players the more you realise that you are just part of the same group of guys playing the same game over the same course.” 
The Belgian's slender frame disguises one of the tour's biggest hitters and he credited his distance off the tee for his round on Friday.
“I like the course and the way that I have been driving the ball over the first two day, it allows me to take some lines that the other guys can’t take because of my length of the tee," he said.
"On some holes I will have short irons in while the other guys will have five and six irons. The second was a good example of that today – I hit the drive miles down there and took out the corner and just had a seven iron approach. I managed to hit that into to about seven feet and make the eagle putt."
South Korean Choi Jin-ho, Kiwi Gareth Paddison, Australian Marcus Fraser and Spaniard Ignacio Garrido also remain well in the hunt at eight under.
Choi  is seeking his first tournament victory away from home having won twice in Korea, but he does have a taste for national Open competitions having finished joint second at the Indonesia Open presented by Enjoy Jakarta last year and joint third at the Thailand Open.
“The conditions were very different today," he said. "The wind made it very difficult, but I played some good recovery shots which helped my score. The key is that you have to be patient and take your chances when you can.”
Fraser meanwhile credited a phone call with his coach for his improved performance in China.
"I did some good work last weekend and spoke to my coach on the phone and what he has been telling me is finally sinking in," he said. "You would think it would sink in -- he has been telling me the same thing for months, but golfers aren’t the smartest people on the planet sometimes!”
Peter Whiteford moved into the leading Scot role with a 68 for 138. That him in a tie for 16th place - a shot ahead of Paul Lawrie who shot a 67 for 139 and a share of 24th place.
Paul Lawrie writes on his website:
"It was really cold and windy this morning so 67 (-5) was a great effort. I hit it really solid all day and holed out very well, which is something you must do in that weather as you're always going to have 4 or 5 footers to hole.   No practice this afternoon, just back to the hotel to relax."
Disaster of the day befell Englishman Paul Casey who recorded a 10 on the par-five 12th hole, as well as two double bogey 7s on the second and 18th for a 79.
Par 144 (2x72) Yardage 7,667 Tianjin Binhal Lake GC course.
133 Gary BOYD (ENG) 66-67, Jean-Baptiste GONNET (FRA) 66-67.
134 Branden GRACE (RSA) 67-67.
135 Nicolas COLSAERTS (BEL) 68-67.
136 CHOI Jin-ho (SKOR) 69-67, Marcus FRASER (AUS) 67-69, Gareth PADDISON (NZL) 68-68, Ignacio GARRIDO (ESP) 67-69.
137 Danny WILLETT (ENG) 69-68, Victor DUBUISSON (FRA) 69-68, Joost LUITEN (NED) 66-71, Francesco MOLINARI (ITA) 72-65, Scott STRANGE (AUS) 66-71, Robert-Jan DERKSEN (NED) 68-69, Oliver WILSON (ENG) 70-67.

138 Peter Whiteford 70 68 (T16)
139 Paul Lawrie 72 67 (T24)
140 Coln Montgomerie 68 71 (T29)
141 Scott Jamieson 74 67 (T44)
142 Richie Ramsay 67 75, David Drysdale 70 72 (T53).

MISSED THE CUT (142 or better qualified)
143 Steven O'Hara 71 72, George Murray 72 71 (T71)
149 Stephen Gallacher 76 73 (T136)
156 Guan Tianlang (China) (13-y-o amateur) 77 79.
160 Marc Warren 85 75 (T153).





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