Date: November 22, 2008

Conran in the mix

Steven Conran fired a three-under par 68 to move into a tie for sixth at the halfway point of the Dunlop Phoenix tournament in Miyazaki on Friday. The Aussie is three-under overall and two shots behind leader Tomohiro Kondo who has had rounds of 68 and 69. Compatriot and first round leader Paul Sheehan faltered in his second round with a two-over 73, but is still in contention at two-under overall. Brendan Jones is also still in the mix at even par. Kondo, suffering with a bad cold, admitted himself to hospital on Tuesday, but recovered quickly enough to head the largest international contingent of the year on the Japan Tour. “Every year I come here I am not well and every year I go to the same hospital. At the hospital they always say &aposhe&aposs come again&apos,” Kondo said after shooting a two-under-par 69 in a chilly breeze at Phoenix Country Club. The 31-year-old, a four-time winner on the Japan Tour, posted a five-under 137 halfway total, one stroke better than Swede Henrik Stenson, Spaniard Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, Thai Prayad Marksaeng and Japan&aposs Michio Matsumura. American Brandt Snedeker and 17-year-old Japanese sensation Ryo Ishikawa were part of a group two shots behind It was another poor day for South African Ernie Els, who fell eight strokes behind after a miserable double-bogey at the last. After pushing his drive into the trees, Els chipped back to the fairway and then pushed his third shot, his ball finishing behind a stunted pine. His pitch shot struck the tree branch and ricocheted straight back at Els, who had to jump out of the way to avoid being hit. He took three more strokes to hole out for a 73. Defending champion Ian Poulter also fared poorly, a 73 leaving the Englishman nine shots behind.