Date: November 17, 2006
Author: Luke Buttigieg

Greens ahead, stars lurking

By Luke Buttigieg, Sportal The Greens, Nathan and Richard, are again the ones to catch after 36 holes of the MFS Australian Open, but local golf fans will get at least two more chances to see Greg Norman in action after he narrowly made the cut. Nathan Green has carded rounds of 67 and 71 to set the pace at 138 at halfway and Richard is only two shots back in second after carding 69 and 71, the pair far and away the most impressive on the first two days with only two other players under-par. Green the leader, who was beaten in a playoff by Tiger Woods in January this year in America, is slowly but surely building his confidence and looking forward to the challenge of trying to maintain his lead. “It would mean a lot, to win the Australian Open is I know a huge thing for every Australian golfer,” Green said. “But I&aposd just like to have a win somewhere, that&aposs my goal at the moment.” “I&aposve struggled to finish off tournaments in the past and I&aposm getting into good positions more regularly and I think that&aposs one thing I have to learn how to do is to learn how to win. I know it&aposs not easy dealing with the nerves and I&aposm interested to see how I go in the next few days.” Richard Green knows what it takes to win though, is also extremely keen to add the Stonehaven Cup to his MasterCard Masters gold jacket from 2004 and, like his namesake, plays the kind of steady golf that wins tough tournaments like this one. “I&aposve put everything in place to try to win here this week,” Richard Green said. “It would mean the world to me. I&aposve always wanted to be rated in Australia as a great player and winning the Australian Masters in &apos04 was very special to me.” “I&aposd like to win regular European Tour events and Australian events but the Australian Open is definitely No.1 or two on the list. I don&apost think there&aposs another golf tournament in the world, other than the British Open, that I would want to win now.” But the chasing pack includes some big names, with 2001 champ Stuart Appleby five back after his round-of-the-day 68, and favourite Adam Scott and US Open champion Geoff Ogilvy lurking six back and ready to pounce. Appleby has put himself right back in the hunt after starting the tournament with a double bogey, while Scott and Ogilvy are well poised to break through for their first victories in Australia, with their presence on the leaderboard sure to pressure the leaders. But just as prominent in the headlines, even though he is too far back to challenge for the title, is Norman, the five-time champion who looked likely to miss the cut when he twice slumped to nine-over in his closing holes of the day. Norman made birdies at two of the final three holes, including a 10m putt from off the green at the last that generated an incredible roar from the crowd, ensuring that what could be his final tournament in Australia will finish on Sunday rather than Friday. “That&aposs probably the loudest noise that I&aposve ever heard on a golf course, it was just good to be a part of it. It was a pretty special moment I think,” Nathan Green said after the thrilling end to his two days playing alongside his hero Norman.