Date: February 02, 2008
Author: Sportal

Hend on Tiger’s heels

Australian Scott Hend remains in touch with leader and world No.1 Tiger Woods at the halfway mark of the Dubai Desert Classic. Former Dubai champion Woods, looking to claim his eighth victory in his past nine outings this week, looked visibly frustrated after seeing his overnight lead halved to just one stroke after carding a one-under-par 71 in swirling conditions at the Emirates Golf Club. World No.319 Damien McGrane will pit his wits against the 13-time major winner in the third round, having followed up his opening four-under 68 with a second-round 69 in testing conditions. Frenchman Thomas Levet (71) and Swede Henrik Stenson (70) are third another shot back, while Hend followed up his opening-round 67 with an even-par 72 to be three strokes adrift of Woods alongside Spaniard Sergio Garcia (71). Of the other Australasians, Peter O&aposMalley (73) dropped a shot on Friday to three-under, one ahead of Brendan Jones (71) and two clear of Richard Green (70), while Marcus Fraser (75) is even with the card and Kiwi Michael Campbell (72) on plus four. Irishman McGrane, 36, admits he is looking forward to his meeting with the American after playing alongside world No.5 Ernie Els and eight-time Order of Merit winner Colin Montgomerie in the past. “We all want to play better than Tiger, play alongside him and see what we should be doing because he sets the mark at the moment,” said McGrane. “I have to make the most of what I have and play my own game and sink a few putts and hope the numbers add up.” “It&aposs something that is going to be very different playing with someone of his stature, but he has his game and I have my game and I will be trying to do the best with what I have.” McGrane reached the turn in one-under after converting two birdie putts from four feet, while shipping a bogey after missing the 15th green before two-putting. The front nine started with a bogey to drop back to level par but a fortunate eagle three at the 568-yard third, which saw a 283-yard three wood drop down to four feet after hitting the pin, rallied the Irishman before he rounded off the scoring with a 20-foot birdie putt four holes later. Woods was pleased with his modest round after an opening 65, but the American looked troubled for much of the back nine and was seen throwing his putter across the green after a missed birdie putt at the 10th while at one-under. Woods was unable to increase his lead after he was forced to rally with two late birdies at 16 and 18 after dropping shots with two bogeys in four holes in the middle of his back nine. “I was pleased with anything in the red, it was not a pretty day so I am pleased,” said Woods who also admitted he found it tough to steady himself on the greens in the blustery conditions which led to several missed putts. “You&aposve got to be patient. You&aposve got to step up there and be committed to what you are doing and you&aposve got to work the ball all different ways. We had a myriad of distractions and you had to be committed to what you&aposre doing.” Second Round Scores from the Qatar Masters (par 72): -8: Tiger Woods 65 71 -7: Damien McGrane 68 69 -6: Thomas Levet 67 71, Henrik Stenson 68 70 -5: Scott Hend (Australia) 67 72, Ross Fisher 69 70, Sergio Garcia 68 71, Peter Hedblom 69 70, Graeme McDowell 67 72, Gary Murphy 67 72, Hennie Otto 69 70 -4: Andrew Coltart 69 71, Ernie Els 68 72, Jean-Baptiste Gonnet 72 68, Soren Hansen 68 72, Shiv Kapur 68 72, Robert Karlsson 70 70, Martin Kaymer 67 73, Lee Westwood 69 71 -3: Peter O Malley (Australia) 68 73, Paul Broadhurst 70 71, Pelle Edberg 67 74, Johan Edfors 71 70, David Frost 72 69, Miguel Angel Jimenez 67 74, Andrew McLardy 67 74, Ian Poulter 70 71, Jyoti Randhawa 67 74, Graeme Storm 69 72 Also: -2: Brendan Jones (Australia) 71 71 -1: Richard Green (Australia) 73 70 E: Marcus Fraser (Australia) 69 75 +4: Michael Campbell (New Zealand) 76 72