Date: May 09, 2009
Author: PA Sport and Sportal

Allenby bounces back

Robert Allenby is six shots off the pace as the best-performed Australian after the second round of The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass on Saturday. Germany&aposs Alex Cejka holds the clubhouse lead on minus 11 while some big names flirted with the cut. Allenby roared back into contention following his horror opening round with a six-under-par 66, which included eight birdies and a double bogey on the 14th. Allenby will go into the third round in a tie for 13th. Nick O&aposHearn and John Senden are two strokes back at minus three while Aaron Baddeley and Geoff Ogilvy are at two under. Cejka, still searching for his maiden PGA Tour victory after playing full time in the United States since 2003, began the day at six under par, a shot behind overnight leader Ben Crane. The 39-year-old quickly moved past his American rival on the par-72, 7,215yard Players Stadium course with three birdies in a row between the second and fourth holes and went on to shoot a 67, 11 under for the tournament and four shots clear of the field, despite needing an epidural injection to ease the pain in a long-troubled neck. “I had a pinched nerve and I had a numb arm for three weeks,” Cejka said. “So they had to go in there and put some cortisone shot in the nerve, so it&aposs healing better.” “It&aposs still not 100 percent but I feel my hand, so that&aposs a good sign.” Americans Kevin Na and Jason Dufner were in the clubhouse on seven under after a 66 and 70 respectively, with Masters champion Angel Cabrera also done for the day after a 65 that took him to four shots behind Cejka. The Argentinian had returned to action last week following his Augusta National play-off success over Kenny Perry and Chad Campbell but missed the cut at the Quail Hollow Championship and today bounced back from an opening 72. Crane briefly stayed in touch with fellow early starter Cejka but a double bogey at the par-four 18th left him with a 73, taking him back to six under. Camilo Villegas of Colombia had got to seven under before a double bogey at the par-five 16th led to a level-par 73, five under at the halfway stage. Sweden&aposs Robert S Johnson and American John Mallinger were among the late starters, each beginning at six under with England&aposs Ian Poulter, Retief Goosen of South Africa and Americans David Toms, Scott Verplank and Jonathan Byrd starting at five under. Johnson and Byrd had both moved to seven under after 10 holes while Poulter birdied his second on the 11th hole to reach six under. Byrd got to eight under after 12 holes and Poulter improved another stroke to seven under with a birdie at the 16th. England&aposs Paul Casey will start the third round at five under following a 69 that consisted of five birdies and two bogeys. Sweden&aposs Henrik Stenson was at five under having played nine holes with England&aposs Brian Davis at four under following a 71 and Justin Rose at three under after eight holes. Ireland&aposs Padraig Harrington posted a second consecutive 72 to remain at level par, which was the projected cut mark, while there were plenty of big names needing good rounds to reach the weekend. Phil Mickelson, the 2007 Players champion, needed a birdie at the par-five ninth, his last hole to reach the clubhouse at level par following a 71 but despite an eagle at the same hole, 2004 champion Adam Scott could only finish with 74, at one over for the week. Northern Ireland&aposs Rory McIlroy and Luke Donald of England began their second rounds at two over with the 20-year-old Ulsterman slipping further away from safety following bogeys at the par-five 11th and par-four 15th, his second and fifth holes. Starting from the 10th tee and having birdied his fifth hole to get to one over, Donald fell back with a bogey at the par-five 16th, while another Englishman, Ross Fisher, finished with a 74 to end his week at four over. World No.1 Tiger Woods had begun his round at one under par and was briefly in a shaky position at level par after a birdie and two bogeys over the opening four holes before getting back to two under with birdies at the ninth and 10th. Woods, the 2001 champion, made it three in a row when he birdied the 11th and looked to be shaping up for a march onto the leaderboard. Stenson joined Poulter briefly at eight under after 15 holes with the third birdie of his back nine, before the Englishman moved to nine under – two shots off Cejka&aposs lead – with a birdie at the 13th. Rose added another birdie at the 11th to move to four under, and Scotland&aposs Martin Laird made it into the weekend with a level-par round of 72 that kept him at one under for the tournament while defending champion Sergio Garcia was at level par with five holes left to play. Graeme McDowell was struggling over the closing holes, the Northern Irishman falling to one over with bogeys at the 14th and 17th holes before sneaking back to level par with a birdie three at the last. His compatriot McIlroy, though, was facing an early exit as he stood at three over after 11 holes. Poulter dropped his first shot of the day at the sixth, his 15th, after he got tangled in the trees, while Stenson dropped a shot at the eighth, his 17th, to fall back to seven under. Rose kept narrowing the gap on the leaders as he sent down two more birdies in a row to reach the 14th at six under. Also at six under was Sweden&aposs Daniel Chopra, who was having the round of the day having started at three over par. Chopra, starting on the 10th tee, went out in 30 thanks an eagle and four birdies and added three more birdies before the course claimed a bogey from him at the par-four fifth. He bounced straight back with a birdie and at nine under for the round with two holes left to play, the Swede was in sight of a share of the course record, a 63, shot by Fred Couples in 1992 and Greg Norman in 1994. Woods missed birdie putts on 17 and 18 to come away with a 69 and the world number one will start the third round at four under. Brett Rumford and Andrew Tampion are within reach of the leaders following the second round of the Italian Open in Rome. Tampian fired a five-under par 67 to join compatriot Rumford (69) at minus five, four shots off leader Daniel Vancsik. Colin Montgomerie missed yet another halfway cut today as Argentina&aposs Daniel Vancsik moved into a one-stroke lead at the BMW Italian Open in Turin. Eight-time European number one Montgomerie bogeyed the final two holes to crash out just as he did in the Spanish Open a week ago. “I should not be missing cuts in these tournaments,” said the Ryder Cup captain, only a month away now from his 46th birthday. “I came to gain on the Order of Merit and world rankings and I&aposm losing ground.” He is currently a lowly 96th on the Race To Dubai money list and down at 171st in the world. Three birdies in four holes from the 13th looked to have saved Montgomerie, but he failed to get up and down from a bunker at the 17th and on the last missed the green again and left his chip 25 feet short. That meant a second successive 72 for a two-over-par total and he joined Darren Clarke in making an early exit. Clarke finished down on seven over after rounds of 74 and 75. Vancsik, on the other hand, added a 65 to his opening 68 for a nine under aggregate. Northern Ireland&aposs Gareth Maybin, three clear after his opening course-record 64, slipped to second place with a 70. Vancsik has not had a top-20 finish on the European Tour for almost a year, but that does not mean he will not win – he went eight months without one before capturing the Madeira Islands Open in 2007. The 32-year-old is known for his big-hitting, but it was his putter that was his most impressive weapon when he returned to Royal Park four behind Maybin. In grabbing five birdies in six holes around the turn he holed twice from 20 feet and also converted a 25-foot chance. “When I feel good about your putting I am more relaxed,” he said. “But you need to play well for four rounds – if it is only for three then it won&apost happen. “I&aposm working on hitting the driver straighter. Hitting it long is okay, but you need to put it on the fairway.” While compatriot Angel Cabrera has now won two majors, Vancsik has yet to play in one. The closest he came was at Walton Heath last June when he lost a play-off for a US Open spot to amateur Gary Wolstenholme. Maybin said after his two-birdie, one-bogey round: “That was hard work – too hard. “Tee to green I was not very good, but usually anybody who finishes well is going to have one of those days and hopefully that&aposs mine out of the way.” England&aposs Anthony Wall, Icelander Birgir Hafthorsson and Finn Roope are in joint third place on seven under. Wall, trying for only his second win in more than 300 Tour events, shot 67, Hafthorsson a 65 and Kakko, who received a late call-up to the event, a 64. That was a Tour best for the 27-year-old, but will not join Maybin&aposs opening round as a course record because placing was allowed on the fairways. That also applies, of course, to South African Andrew McLardy, who improved from three over to four under with the help of a hole-in-one at the 208-yard fourth. On the same mark is American star John Daly after a second successive 69 – in fact, a third in a row as he finished last week&aposs Spanish Open with one. “Yesterday could have been really low and today could have been really high,” said the 43-year-old, on the comeback trail in Europe as his six-month US Tour ban comes to an end. Second Round of the BMW Italian Open -9: Daniel Vancsik 68 65 -8: Gareth Maybin 64 70 -7: Birgir Hafthorsson 70 65, Roope Kakko 71 64, Anthony Wall 68 67 -5: Julien Clement 70 67, Marcus Higley 67 70, Raphael Jacquelin 67 70, Francesco Molinari 6 69, Ake Nilsson 68 69, Richie Ramsay 67 70, Robert Rock 72 65, Brett Rumford (Australia) 68 69, Patrick Sjoland 72 65, Andrew Tampion (Australia) 70 67 -4: Thomas Aiken 68 70, Thomas Bjorn 71 67, Marc Cayeux 69 69, John Daly 69 69, Anders Hansen 73 65, Gary Lockerbie 69 69, Andrew McLardy 74 64, Inder Van Weerelt 69 69, Fabrizio Zanotti 68 70 Also: -2: Marcus Fraser (Australia) 73 67 -1: Wade Ormsby (Australia) 70 71 E: Peter O Malley (Australia) 74 68, Gareth Paddison (New Zealand) 70 72 +1: Scott Barr (Australia) 71 72 +3: Michael Curtain (Australia) 70 75, Matthew Millar (Australia) 73 72 +7: Kane Webber (Australia) 74 75 The Players Championship After Round 2 -11: Alex Cejka 66 67 -9: Ian Poulter 67 68 -7: Kevin Na 71 66, Angel Cabrera 72 65, Jason Dufner 67 70, John Mallinger 66 71, Henrik Stenson 68 69, David Toms 67 70 -6: Ben Crane 65 73, Richard S Johnson 66 72, Tim Petrovic 68 70, Jeff Overton 71 67 -5: Camilo Villegas 67 72, Robert Allenby (Australia) 73 66, Paul Casey 70 69, Michael Letzig 71 68, Ryan Moore 71 68, Jonathan Byrd 67 72, Justin Leonard 70 69, Retief Goosen 67 72, Charley Hoffman 70 69 Also: -3: Nick O Hern (Australia) 68 73, John Senden (Australia) 72 69 -2: Aaron Baddeley (Australia) 71 71, Geoff Ogilvy (Australia) 70 72 -1: Nathan Green (Australia) 74 69, Rod Pampling (Australia) 70 73 +1: Adam Scott (Australia) 71 74 +2: Steve Elkington (Australia) 73 73 +3: Stuart Appleby (Australia) 71 76 +6: Peter Lonard (Australia) 77 73 +9: Matthew Goggin (Australia) 76 77 +10: Tim Wilkinson (New Zealand) 77 77