Date: November 17, 2006
Author: Luke Buttigieg

Green show continues at Open

By Luke Buttigieg, Sportal Nathan Green remains on top at the halfway mark of the MFS Australian Open at Royal Sydney, but Victorian Richard Green is still snapping at his heels just two shots back. Five-time champion Greg Norman also thrilled the huge galleries that followed him by holing his 10m putt from off the green at the 18th to make birdie and ensure he will be around on the weekend in what he has admitted could be his last Australian tournament. Nathan Green did lead by as many as five shots at one point but his first blemish of the day – his first dropped shot in 23 holes – when he three-putted the 14th hole, saw him finish with a one-under 71 that included two birdies, leaving him on minus six overall. 2004 MasterCard Masters champion Richard Green grabbed a second-hole birdie but it was cancelled out by a bogey at seven and he then recovered from another bogey at the 12th with a second birdie at 15. His third birdie of the day at the par-three 17th hole, minutes after he had been disappointed to miss birdie at 16, was just the boost Green needed as he also signed for a 71 to keep the pressure on his namesake. There are only two other players in red figures at present, with 2001 champion Stuart Appleby&aposs round-of-the-day 68 drawing him level with New South Welshman Gavin Coles (70) at one-under. And tournament favourite Adam Scott (70), US Open champion Geoff Ogilvy (72), Brett Rumford (70), Nick O&aposHern (71), Jarrod Lyle (75), Steven Bowditch (72) and Andrew Martin (73) are the only other players square with the card. Lyle dropped six shots in 12 holes at one point after being within touch of Green&aposs lead, while Neil Sarkies shot 72 to finish the day at plus one, and Peter Lonard (75), Peter O&aposMalley (73), Ryan Haller (75), Ashley Hall (71) and Luke Hickmott (74) are two-over. Dual winner Aaron Baddeley had to settle for a 72 and remains at plus three alongside Mathew Goggin (74) and Marcus Fraser (71), and John Senden (72) and Paul Gow (72) are equal 24th on four-over. Nick Flanagan and Stephen Leaney both managed 72s to stay at plus six, while defending champion Robert Allenby and Queenslander Rod Pampling at one staged looked like missing the cut after both shot 74 to drop back to plus seven. Norman fought hard all day for survival, making eagle at the seventh to be five-over after nine, but bogey at 10, double bogey at 11 and another bogey at 15 threatened his chances before he closed with birdie, bogey and birdie to hang on. Jarrod Moseley (76 for plus 10 overall), former tennis player Scott Draper (80 for 13-over) and Craig Parry (77 for plus 15 overall) are the major casualties. Nathan Green grabbed birdies at the fifth and seventh holes before staying five clear when he made a superb par save at the 12th, from about 40 feet, and then came the dropped shot at 14, but he is happy with his position heading to the weekend. “Five days ago I never would have thought I&aposd be sitting here in this position but I&aposve managed to control myself out there,” Green said. “I saw that I was well ahead at one stage but I hit a few scrappy shots but managed to hold it together to finish off a reasonably good round.” Buoyed by his Masters victory of two years ago, Richard Green is also looking forward to his shot at a title he covets above any other in the game, apart from possibly the British Open. “I birdied 15 to give myself some good feelings,” Green said. “I then nearly set up an eagle opportunity on 16 but kind of let one slip there really, and I ended up three-putting there for par.” “I really felt I should have made the birdie on 16, so making the birdie on 17 got it back. It was a great shot in there and to knock the putt in there on top of that was good.” After opening with a 75, Appleby got his round rolling with birdies at the 10th and 13th holes before a double bogey at 15, but he went to the turn with a third birdie at 18 and grabbed three more at two, three and seven to make his presence felt. “It was important because I needed to feel like I was going in the right direction versus where I thought I was going to head after hole one. I thought &aposman I won&apost break 80 if this is the vibe for the day&apos,” Appleby said. “I steadied the ship and then I had to try and steer it back and try and get into red numbers today. I didn&apost know what I could score today, I didn&apost know what the wind was going to do.” Scott also began at the 10th and picked up two shots overall with birdies at the 13th, 16th and 17th, his only blemish before the turn a bogey at 15, before he birdied one and six but also bogeyed two and five in between on his way in. “I would like to be a little better than that but I&aposll take it,” said Scott, who also warned that the greens are drying up and becoming much quicker. “Yesterday it was important not to go out and shoot myself out of it and I managed to hang in there.” “I was pretty happy with two-over and I played pretty well today. I should have been a couple of shots better but I wasn&apost. As long as I am not 10 back starting the weekend, I am going to be in half decent shape.” Having claimed earlier this week that he was confident of repeating last summer&aposs heroics when he won the MFS Australian Open, MasterCard Masters and Cadbury Schweppes Australian PGA Championship, Allenby just hasn&apost been able to get going. “I&aposm definitely not looking good for winning the tournament but I think I will make the cut,” Allenby said. “Hopefully I&aposll make the cut and be able to shoot a couple of really low ones. Hopefully I will get some nice conditions and I&aposd be able to shoot eight or nine-under and go from there.”