Date: November 28, 2008
Author: Angus Morgan at Huntingdale

Clark maintains lead

An indifferent second-round 70 has been good enough to enable first round joint-leader Tim Clark of South Africa to keep his nose in front at the 2008 Australian Masters at Huntingdale. The world No.53 had expected better in benign conditions on Friday, but at least he&aposll be in the mix when it counts, unlike tournament drawcard John Daly (76, 73) who missed the cut set at one-over, along with the likes of Craig Parry and Stuart Appleby who both finished at plus-four. At seven-under, Clark leads by one stroke from journeyman Anthony Summers of New South Wales who got to eight-under before dropping two shots on his final three holes for a 68, and former World No.1 amateur, Michael Sim of Western Australia who fired an error-free 66. One stroke further back among a menacing pack of seven players sits tournament favourite, Robert Allenby who picked up five shots on the back nine on Friday morning for a second-round 66. Joint first-round leader Scott Hend finished with a one-over 73 to drop to four-under. The field generally took full advantage of Friday&aposs calm, quiet conditions on a course softened by overnight rain. One exception was world No.53 Clark, the runner-up behind Phil Mickelson at Augusta National in 2006, who&aposs competing in Australia for the first time. “I had a lot more birdie chances and with the greens being softer it was easier to get it closer, and I just didn t make anything,” Clark said. “I made one putt of about eight feet for birdie on No.1 which was my back nine, and that was it all day.” “I left a lot out there on the greens but I&aposm still in a great position.” “It seems like it&aposs going to be quite bunched-up with how the course is playing so really it&aposs about playing four solid rounds and really, this isn&apost going to set me back.” The unheralded Summers came to the Masters buoyed by a tie for 10th in this tournament last year, his best-ever finish in an Australasian Tour event. But he conceded that being entrenched at the pointy end of the field at the half-way mark of the Masters is something new. “It could have been really good out there,” the 39-year-old said. “When I hit a bad one, I got away with it, and when I hit the good ones I made the most of them, so it was a good day.” “I get to play the weekend, that&aposs a great bonus.” Fit for the past several months after two years disrupted by stress fractures in his lower back, 24-year-old Sim is excited about his prospects at Huntingdale. “I&aposm just going to stick to my game plan and play aggressive,” said Sim. “I&aposm putting the ball well and I&aposm hitting a lot of greens so as long as I can keep it going, it will be an exciting weekend.” Daly, who is apparently keen to contest the Australian Open at Royal Sydney after next week&aposs PGA at Coolum, failed to come to terms with the wind at Huntingdale on Thursday and the greens on Friday. “I had a couple of eagle opportunities and hit horrible putts, three-putted one of them,” Daly said. “When you don&apost putt good, it&aposs not much fun, it&aposs tough.” “I had opportunities today and they just didn&apost fall. The individual highlight of the day was provided by 27-year-old Aaron Townsend of New South Wales who arrived at the course at the crack of dawn to complete the final five holes of his first round that were stymied by Thursday&aposs electrical storm. He made a complete hash of it, finishing with four bogeys for a three-over 75. After short break to compose himself, Townsend proceeded to tear Huntingdale to bits with an equal-course record second-round 64 to join Allenby on five-under.