Date: October 04, 2008

Brier halfway leader

Austria&aposs Markus Brier shrugged off the bitterly cold conditions to return a second round 70 at St Andrews and lead the Dunhill Links Championship on eight-under-par. Brier is one ahead of Teenager Rory McIlroy, Germany&aposs Martin Kaymer and Ryder Cup team-mates Soren Hansen and Robert Karlsson. Australian Terry Pilkadaris is six shots off the pace on two-under in a share of 29th position while Marcus Fraser (one-under) and Peter Fowler (even) find themselves further back in the field. Tournament leader Brier believes victory on Sunday (UK time) would be his greatest golfing achievement, surpassing even his first European Tour title on home soil in 2006. The Austrian said: “My first win was great, coming in Austria and at my home club. Emotion-wise that will always be my highlight.” “But with the strength of the field and the toughness of the courses we play this week, winning here would probably be my best achievement.” McIlroy will take inspiration from double Open champion Padraig Harrington as he attempts to win his first European Tour title. McIlroy looked set to break his duck in the Omega European Masters at the start of last month, taking a four-shot lead into the final round only to eventually lose out to Jean-Francois Lucquin in a play-off. But the 19-year-old from Northern Ireland is on course to have another chance this weekend after a hugely impressive second round of 69 at Carnoustie – where he finished leading amateur in the Open last year. McIlroy, who would have been the third-youngest winner in tour history in Switzerland and could be the fourth-youngest on Sunday, said: “Padraig called me over on Wednesday and said &aposhard luck&apos and that he knew how it felt, we&aposve all blown tournaments that we should have won.” “He&aposs been second on tour 29 times and learnt how to win. He hasn&apost had a second place for three years. He told me to keep getting experience, get yourself up there again and you&aposll win.” “The more you are there the more you will learn and you&aposll close it out.” McIlroy finished third in this event last year in just his second event since turning professional, earning enough money to secure his European Tour card for 2008. “I&aposm doing as well as last year, I would love to repeat that finish and even go better,” the former European amateur champion said. “I need to get into position first to have a chance to do that. If I do I&aposm sure my recent experience in Switzerland will help me.” “It didn&apost quite happen for me then but I&aposm playing well again this week and I&aposve probably got the easiest course of the three tomorrow. I know the top guys are having to come here to Carnoustie so if I can go out at Kingsbarns and do well I could be right up there.” Harrington himself is just two off the lead after a 71 at St Andrews as he seeks a third victory in the event which would almost certainly see him finish the year as European number one for the second time. The Open and USPGA champion currently heads the Order of Merit by 180,000 pounds ($AU 410,239) from Lee Westwood, who would have been 100,000 pounds ($AU 227,910) closer by beating Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano in a play-off for the Quinn Insurance British Masters at The Belfry on Sunday. Westwood is alongside Harrington on six-under-par with second-placed Karlsson also still in with a shout of lifting the Harry Vardon Trophy. The Swede is third in the money list another 100,000 pounds behind Westwood, but the first prize on Sunday is 432,000 pounds ($AU 984,574) and three other lucrative tournaments remain this season. Also in the eight-strong group on six-under-par was Scotland&aposs Gary Orr, who made the most of a tailwind to reduce the normally fearsome 17th hole on the Old Course to a three-wood and pitching wedge. It was the first time Orr could ever remember making a birdie on the Road Hole but even more noteworthy are the exploits of his playing partner in the pro-am event. Anthony Bryan is an 85-year-old former pilot, born in Mexico to English parents, who flew for the Royal Canadian Air Force in the Second World War and was shot down behind enemy lines shortly before D-Day in May 1944. “I spent four-and-a-half months behind enemy lines working with the French underground,” Bryan said after he and Orr ended the day in a share of 11th place in the team standings. Asked why he was awarded the DFC (Distinguished Flying Cross) in 1944, he added modestly: “You just stay alive. We did a lot of support of the 8th army in Italy, a lot of dive-bombing.” Orr, who played the first events of this season on a medical exemption after a back injury, added: “He is a lesson to us all. Playing golf at 85 is brilliant and getting round, especially in these conditions, is fantastic.” Second Round of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship (Par 72) -8: Markus Brier 66 70 -7: Martin Kaymer 65 72, Soren Hansen 64 73, Robert Karlsson 67 70, Rory McIlroy 68 69 -6: Michael Campbell (New Zealand) 68 70, Lee Westwood 68 70, Padraig Harrington 67 71, Jose-Filipe Lima 67 71, Magnus Carlsson 70 68, Jarmo Sandelin 66 72, Gary Orr 66 72, Raphael Jacquelin 68 70 -5: David Howell 66 73, Marc Warren 66 73 -4: Ross Fisher 64 76, Thomas Aiken 66 74, Charl Schwartzel 68 72, Thongchai Jaidee 69 71, Gregory Bourdy 66 74, Jamie Donaldson 70 70, Peter Hedblom 69 71 Also: -2: Terry Pilkadaris (Australia) 68 74 -1: Marcus Fraser (Australia) 66 77 E: Peter Fowler (Australia) 68 76 +1: Greg Chalmers (Australia) 70 75 +2: Richard Green (Australia) 72 75 +4: Steven Jeffress (Australia) 72 76 +5: James Nitties (Australia) 69 80, Scott Strange (Australia) 72 77, Kane Webber (Australia) 75 74, Matthew Millar (Australia) 72 77 +6: Peter O Malley (Australia) 72 78, Won Joon Lee (Australia) 68 82 +7: Scott Hend (Australia) 73 78, Scott Barr (Australia) 73 78 +8: Ewan Porter (Australia) 75 77 +10: Adam Bland (Australia) 75 79 +12: Unho Park (Australia) 77 79 +13: Steven Bowditch (Australia) 77 80 +16: Gary Simpson (Australia) 76 84