Date: May 19, 2007

Green slips in tough conditions

Richard Green is the best-placed Aussie at the halfway mark of the Irish Open but slipped down the leaderborad after carding a one-over round of 73 in difficult conditions. On a day where just players managed sub-70 scores, Green went to the turn at two over after bogies on five and six but recovered well on the back nine, picking up strokes on 11 an 15 before bogeying the par-four 17th. Padraig Harrington is on track to become the first home winner of the Irish Open in 25 years after a superb 68 at a windswept Adare Manor. Trees were blown down as winds gusted to 45mph but Harrington carded five birdies and one bogey to take a one-shot lead over England&aposs Simon Wakefield, Swede Joakim Backstrom and Argentina&aposs Andres Romero. The 35-year-old Dubliner, looking to become the first Irish winner since John O&aposLeary in 1982, admits winning his national open is second in importance only to the four major championships. But the world number 12 knows the pressure will be on as an expectant home crowd looks to him to justify his status as the pre-tournament favourite. “I think I will treat it as any other round of golf. I&aposm not going out there thinking &aposI&aposm in the last group in the Irish Open&apos,” said Harrington, last year&aposs European number one. “I&aposm going to go out there thinking I&aposm playing golf to the best of my ability and that&aposs it.” “How I approach it will be the same as any other round of golf, whether I was at the top or the bottom of the order.” Tees were brought forward for the second day in succession – this time by 321 yards – and Harrington took advantage with three birdies in his first seven holes after starting from the 10th. He dropped his first shot of the day on the 18th but bounced straight back with a birdie on the first and missed further birdies chances on the seventh and ninth from five and three feet respectively. “I played really well and created a lot of chances,” added Harrington. “I didn&apost get myself into any bother all day and it&aposs hard to believe I shot 68 and I&aposm thinking of what might have been.” “The course is set up very reasonably considering the conditions and on every hole I was thinking about trying to make birdie, rather than yesterday when it was trying to make par.” It is doubtful everyone agreed with Harrington&aposs assessment of the course however, Jeev Milkha Singh crashing to an 82 and overnight joint leader Simon Dyson struggling to a 78. That was 10 shots worse than his first round and left the former Walker Cup star on two over par, six off the lead. Ireland&aposs Damian Mooney did improve by 15 shots on his first round, but scores of 92 and 77 were hardly anything to write home about. England&aposs Lee Westwood, seeking back-to-back victories after his win in Spain on Sunday, dropped out of contention after adding a 77 to his opening 71. Matthew Zions struggled in the tough conditions, tumbling down the leaderboard after firing a six-over round of 78. After a solid round of 71 on day one Zions now sits on five over after 36 holes. Results from round two of the Irish Open: -3: Padraig Harrington 73 68 -2: Joakim Backstrom 71 71, Andres Romero 68 74, Simon Wakefield 70 72 -1: Peter Gustafsson 68 75, Christian Nilsson 69 74, Louis Oosthuizen 69 74 E: Alastair Forsyth 72 72, Richard Green (Australia) 71 73, James Heath 74 70, Michael Jonzon 72 72 1: Soren Hansen 73 72, David Higgins 75 70, Francesco Molinari 71 74, Phillip Price 72 73, Carlos Rodiles 73 72 also: 5: Matthew Zions (Australia) 71 78 7: Brett Rumford (Australia) 80 71 missed cut: 8: Marcus Fraser (Australia) 74 78, Wade Ormsby (Australia) 78 74 13: Matthew Millar (Australia) 79 78 14: Andrew Tampion (Australia) 78 80 15: Terry Price (Australia) 83 76