Date: November 23, 2007
Author: Bren O'Brien at Huntingdale

Allenby maintains advantage

Robert Allenby is eying his third gold jacket in six years after maintaining his first-round one-shot lead at the halfway stage of the MasterCard Masters at Huntingdale. Allenby, Masters champion in 2003 and 2005, backed up his first-round 67 with a 68 on Friday to move to nine-under, one shot clear of morning pace-setter Aaron Baddeley. The world No.18 and the world No.50, two of the biggest names in Australian golf, will walk the famous fairways together on Saturday after establishing a three-shot gap over the rest of the field after 36 holes. Allenby got his round going at the sixth, rolling in a long eagle putt to move from his overnight score of five-under to within a shot of Baddeley&aposs mark from earlier in the day. He followed that up with a birdie on eight and then took the lead with another on the 10th. His next birdie didn&apost come until the 17th but he gave that back with a dropped shot at the last. Despite his four–under round, Allenby felt he had just battled on Friday and was hopeful he could turn things around and extend his lead on Saturday “It would have been nice to stay at 10-under because my goal is to shoot five-under each day so tomorrow I&aposll have to shoot six. I figure mu goal is to get to 20-under and that would win the tournament quite easily, unless Aaron goes out there and does something silly,” he said. An excellent 66 on the back of Thursday&aposs 70 moved Baddeley up the leaderboard. He topped his round with a brilliant approach on his final hole after shooting his way clear of his morning rivals thanks to a run of three straight birdies which began at his 12th, the third. Earlier he had birdied holes 10, 12, 14 and 16, before dropping shots either side of the turn. Baddeley was pleased with his progress so far this week and was confident he was in a great position for victory coming into the weekend. “I felt like I played really nice today, overall. I felt like the bogey on No.1 was a little soft. But besides that, 18, I hit a fairway bunker, I just got a poor lie,” he said. “Overall I was very pleased, six-under I mean I&aposm gonna be right there for the weekend. I don&apost expect to be in the lead, going in Saturday but I should be right there.” A group of five players, Australians Terry Pilkadaris, Scott Strange and Rick Kulacz, Sweden&aposs Daniel Chopra, as well as Baddeley&aposs playing partner Rory McIlroy, are three shots back. Strange and Chopra made their moves in the afternoon sun both carding 69s. Pilkadaris picked up five birdies in his first 16 holes to be six-under at one stage but a bogey on his final hole saw him slip back to five-under. Kulacz was rewarded for a second consistent round, which contained four birdies and a bogey. McIlroy also signed for a 69 after six birdies and three bogeys. There are five players in equal eighth at four-under. Australians Rod Pampling (71) and Kurt Barnes (71), and English journeyman Peter Baker (72) were joined later in the day by Stuart Appleby (71) who needed two chip-ins on the back nine to stay under par, and Matthew Zions, who completed his 70 after 7pm. Seven players are on three-under, six Australians, Simon Furneaux, Richard Finch, Alistair Presnell, Marcus Fraser, Adam Crawford and dual winner Peter Lonard, as well as Englishman Richard Finch. The best round of the day came from England&aposs Dave Horsey, who caught fire with a 65 which included seven birdies. The heartbreaking story of the day was Justin Maker, who had a hole in one at the 12th but then four-putted the last for a seven to miss the cut (one-over) by one shot.