Date: July 21, 2007

Garcia has his chance for Major

Sergio Garcia overcame early nerves and retained his two-stroke lead in the Open at Carnoustie on Friday – with more than a little help from an off-form Tiger Woods. Rod Pampling is the best placed Australian, currently in a tie for 13th place at even par and six shots behind Garcia, while compatriot Adam Scott is just a shot further adrift at one-over. Fellow Australian Richard Green is tied for 43rd at three-over, while John Senden and Korean born Australian Lee Won Joon scraped into the weekend&aposs action at four-over. And with Woods&apos bid for a third successive Claret Jug hitting trouble from the moment he hooked an iron out of bounds off the first tee – he eventually came off with a 74 to fall seven behind – Garcia&aposs six-under-par halfway total of 136 was always likely to keep him at the top of the leaderboard in the windy conditions. South Korean KJ Choi, one place ahead of Garcia on the world rankings after two recent wins on the US Tour, looked for a while as if he might at least draw level with him after birdies at the 14th and 15th brought him one behind. But he was almost in the Barry Burn with his closing drive and with a bogey five had to settle for a second successive 69. Choi is still second on his own, one ahead of Garcia&aposs fellow countryman Miguel Angel Jimenez and Canadian Mike Weir, while Americans Jim Furyk and Boo Weekley – the one who did not know until last week who Jean Van de Velde was or that Paul Lawrie won in 1999 – are joint fifth. Sadly for the Irish fans, Paul McGinley, second after his first day 67, managed only a 75 and dropped to 13th, while 18-year-old amateur Rory McIlroy failed to rediscover the magic of an initial 68 that had put him joint third. With double bogey sixes at the last world number two Phil Mickelson and McIlroy&aposs compatriot Darren Clarke both missed the cut on six over. World number one Woods, joint eighth overnight on two-under, double-bogeyed the first and after a birdie on the next dropped further shots on the fifth and eighth. It could have been far worse for Woods. He was close to the out-of-bounds fence on the long sixth, scrambled a par at the ninth off a really poor approach into sand and then, for the second day running, had incredible good fortune on the 466-yard 10th. In his opening 69 it came with a free drop away from a bad lie in the rough because of television cables that strangely could not be moved – even the Royal and Ancient Club&aposs Director of Rules could not answer why on Friday – and on his return he might easily have hit his approach into the Barry Burn. Instead his ball came down in the trees, narrowly missing two people blissfully unaware that they could have been hit, and with a clear path to the flag he salvaged another par. Woods then birdied the long 14th, but finished with a bogey and said: “It was basically a lack of commitment on the first tee. It was such a poor shot – the commitment wasn&apost there and I didn&apost back off. “I hit a lot of poor shots, but I hung in there. The course is playing difficult and with the bad weather forecast tomorrow you&aposve just got to grind it out and try to stay away from big numbers.” He has won all his 12 majors with at least a share of the lead with a round to go, but it will take something extraordinary for him to be in the position he loves so much by Saturday night. Garcia, who played in the final group with Woods at Hoylake last year and shot 73 to the American&aposs 67, did not start too convincingly either. He admitted to having the dreaded &aposshank&apos with a nine-iron to the first. He did bogey the 412-yard fourth, but up-and-down from a bunker at the 578-yard sixth repaired that and after dropping another shot on the 11th he came back again with another birdie on Carnoustie&aposs other par five, the 514-yard 14th. The cut fell at four over par just after 9.15pm when Won Joon avoided a double bogey on the last hole of the final group. His bogey five meant 70 players qualified for the final 36 holes – and also meant that Colin Montgomerie missed the cut for a fifth major in a row. Every one, that is, since he double-bogeyed the final hole to lose last year&aposs US Open by one. Also on five-over and out went 1999 winner Paul Lawrie and American Justin Leonard, one of the players he beat in a play-off then. Another on the same mark was current European Order of Merit leader Henrik Stenson on a day when he was fined for damaging a tee marker on the eighth hole after hitting out of bounds. Results from round two of the British Open: -6: Sergio Garcia 65 71 -4: KJ Choi 69 69 -3: Mike Weir 71 68, Miguel Angel Jim nez 69 70 -2: Boo Weekley 68 72, Jim Furyk 70 70 -1: JJ Henry 70 71, Retief Goosen 70 71, Alastair Forsyth 70 71, Lee Westwood 71 70, Angel Cabrera 68 73, Andres Romero 71 70 E: Paul McGinley 67 75, Stewart Cink 69 73, Rod Pampling (Australia) 70 72, Gregory Bourdy 70 72, Padraig Harrington 69 73, Ernie Els 72 70, Paul Broadhurst 71 71 also: +1: Adam Scott (Australia) 73 70 +3: Richard Green (Australia) 72 73 +4: John Senden (Australia) 72 74, Won Joon Lee (Australia) 73 73, Michael Campbell (New Zealand) 68 78 missed cut: +5: Matthew Zions (Australia) 72 75, Peter Fowler (Australia) 74 73 +6: Terry Pilkadaris (Australia) 74 74 +7: Nick O&aposHern (Australia) 71 78, Steven Alker (New Zealand) 74 75, Stuart Appleby (Australia) 74 75, Geoff Ogilvy (Australia) 75 74 +8: Paul Sheehan (Australia) 75 75 +9: Aaron Baddeley (Australia) 78 73 +10: Robert Allenby (Australia) 73 79 +12: Scott Laycock (Australia) 74 80, Mark Hensby (Australia) 79 75 +16: Ben Bunny (Australia) 81 77 +18: Adam Groom (Australia) 79 81 +20: Ewan Porter (Australia) 83 79