Date: June 28, 2008

Aussies struggle in France

Rick Kulacz and Peter O&aposMalley are the best placed Australians at the halfway point of the French Open at Le Golf National near Paris. However, they will have to produce something special to move into contention, with the leaders already at seven-under. Scott Barr and Richard Green are at two-over, with many other Australians struggling to make an impact on the tournament. Lee Westwood is looking good to make instant amends this weekend for his US Open near-miss – and to give himself the perfect boost ahead of The Open. Colin Montgomerie sits along side Westwood as both look like mounting serious challenges in the final rounds. Six months into a year which has seen him fall out of the world&aposs top 100 for the first time since 1990, Montgomerie birdied the final two holes of his second round to join Westwood on five under par, just two behind Spanish rookie Pablo Larrazabal. Montgomerie hit a five-iron to four feet, then an eight-iron over water to seven feet to finish in real style and when asked about his chances of a 32nd European Tour win on Sunday said: “Very good. If I can be patient I have a chance.” “I had 16 holes of utter, utter frustration and I hate to say the birdies were deserved, but the way I played that was the minimum I deserved.” “It was as good as I can play tee-to-green. It was back to the way I won tournaments.” Westwood could be back at the top of the Order of Merit on Sunday night – and would have been if he had triumphed at Torrey Pines two weeks ago rather than finishing one behind Tiger Woods and Rocco Mediate. Qualifier Larrazabal, one in front after his opening 65 and in the first group out at 7.30am, stretched his lead to four before bogeying the 16th and 17th for a 70. “They are the big stars and I am the rookie,” said the world number 481. “To know that I can play like them is great for me, very positive.” Last year&aposs US Open champion Angel Cabrera was joint leader until he lost a ball on the 17th and double-bogeyed, while Larrazabal&aposs fellow countryman Ignacio Garrido moved alongside him on seven under as well before bogeying the 15th late in the day. Dubliner Peter Lawrie was alongside Westwood, Montgomerie and Cabrera in the clubhouse, while England&aposs David Lynn was on the same mark with four still to play. Dutchman Robert-Jan Derksen and Thai Chapchai Nirat both had holes-in-one, but because Derksen&aposs came at the 175-yard 16th rather than 210-yard second he was the one to win a BMW car. He still missed the cut, however. Second Round of the French Open (Par 71): -7: Pablo Larrazabal 65 70, David Lynn 70 65 -5: Angel Cabrera 67 70, Ignacio Garrido 68 69, Peter Lawrie 66 71, Colin Montgomerie 69 68, Lee Westwood 9 68 -4: Paul Broadhurst 69 69, Soren Hansen 69 69, Shiv Kapur 75 63, Graeme Storm 68 70 -3: Oliver Fisher 66 73, Hennie Otto 70 69, Carl Suneson 72 67, Miles Tunnicliff 68 71 -2: Alejandro Canizares 71 9, Simon Dyson 70 70, Rafa Echenique 69 71, Michael Jonzon 68 72, Maarten Lafeber 73 67 Also: +1: Rick Kulacz (Australia) 72 71, Peter O&aposMalley (Australia) 71 72 +2: Scott Barr (Australia) 75 69, Richard Green (Australia) 73 71 +3: Marcus Fraser (Australia) 77 68 +6: Matthew Millar (Australia) 77 71 +7: Gareth Paddison (New Zealand) 72 77, Scott Strange (Australia) 71 78 +10: Daniel Gaunt (Australia) 75 77 +16: Mark Brown (New Zealand) 77 81