Date: April 18, 2008

Aussies well off the pace in China

Adam Groom shot two-under par in his second round to be the best placed Australian at the halfway point of the Volvo China Open. However, he is still seven shots off leader Michael Lorenzo-Vera who continued to impress as he secured a one-stroke lead at the end of the second round in Beijing on Friday. The European Tour rookie was the overnight leader after a five-under-par 67 and added a 69 on Friday for an eight-under-par halfway total of 136. The Frenchman&aposs lead could have been greater but for a double bogey on the par-four 14th and a bogey on the ninth, his last hole. Lorenzo-Vera also carded an impressive seven birdies and the 23-year-old, winner of the Challenge Tour last year, admitted he was delighted with his round. “I am super happy,” he said. “It was difficult to get some sleep last night as I was thinking too much about what could happen and I am happy to play well today.” England&aposs Richard Finch and Ireland&aposs Damien McGrane are tied for second at seven under. Finch was among the early starters and set the clubhouse target after a 69. Having bogeyed the first, the 30-year-old Yorkshireman recovered with three successive birdies from the fifth. He then carded two more birdies and one bogey on the inward nine. McGrane also carded a 69 as he chases his maiden victory on the European Tour. He had endured a frustrating run on the front nine, however, making par throughout but things improved after the turn when he carded a birdie on the 10th and then an eagle on the par-five 13th. “There are 36 holes left and whoever wins will have to play a lot of good golf,” said McGrane. “If I play very well I hope to be right up there. It is nice to be there now and gives me all the opportunities.” Scott Strange shot a one-under-par round of 71 to improve to even-par overall, while fellow Australians David Brandson, Marcus Both, Scott Barr, Gavin Flint and Marcus Fraser all did enough to make the cut, but won&apost be expecting to challenge the leaders. Scott Hend, Tony Carolan, David Gleeson, Peter O&aposMalley, Terry Pilkadaris, Gary Simpson, Adam Blyth, Kane Webber and Unho Park all missed the cut. New Zealander Mark Brown is just six shots off the pace after shooting consecutive rounds of 71.