Date: October 18, 2008

Manley leads in Portugal

Stuart Manley, a schoolboy soccer starlet who had a trial with Manchester United, is about to find out how good a golfer he is. The 29-year-old from Mountain Ash in Wales has never had a top-10 finish on the European Tour since turning professional in 2003, but at halfway in the Portugal Masters he is 11-under par and one ahead of Spaniard Alvaro Quiros. It has been a tough tournament for the Australian contingent with Richard Green the only player to break par, he is at four-under. From the depths of 174th on the Order of Merit and 575th in the world Manley followed up his opening 65 – the lowest round of his Tour career – with a 68. While Colin Montgomerie headed home after missing his fourth cut in his last five starts and for the ninth time this season, Manley looked ahead to the test that he realises the final 36 holes will be. “I know what I&aposve got to do,” said the 2003 Walker Cup hero, who has his wife, brother, parents and a couple of friends in Vilamoura cheering him on. “I just have to commit really. If the shots don&apost come off they don&apost come off, but as long as I commit and go out there and give myself a chance that&aposs all I can ask for.” Winning the first prize of almost 400,000 pounds is the aim, of course, but third place would be a great result. It is worth almost 150,000 pounds and, having earned less than 60,000 pounds from his previous 31 events this year, could save him from a fifth trip to the Tour qualifying school. Not that he is aware of the exact position there. Asked if he had studied the money list Manley shook his head and replied: “Best not to. I&aposd get depressed.” Leader by one overnight, he had been overtaken by the time he reached the turn in 36 on his return to the Oceanico Victoria course. But then came a chip-in par on the 11th, a four-iron to six feet for an eagle at the 547-yard next and birdies at the 15th and 16th. His change of fortunes follows a kick up the rear from coach Pete Cowen two weeks ago. “It wasn&apost a rollicking, just a bit of a telling off. He said I should be spending four hours on my short game and one hour on the long game. “I was spending more time perfecting my swing. You don&apost really need to do that – if you can perfect your short game you can save a lot more shots.” Former Open champion Paul Lawrie is hoping this will be the weekend when he returns to winning ways. Less than three months away from his 40th birthday Lawrie, whose last success was the 2002 Wales Open, had a seven-birdie 65 to move to nine under and joint third with Swede Magnus Carlsson. “I&aposve been playing good golf for a while, but holed a few putts today,” said the Scot after Friday&aposs round. “It&aposs disappointing obviously to be 96th on the Order of Merit – I&aposm a better player than that – but you never realise how hard the game is until you struggle with the putter.” Order of Merit leader Robert Karlsson could yet record his third successive victory, a 67 lifting him from 17th to joint fifth on eight under. The day&aposs action also included an amazing incident on the seventh hole when a 69-year-old marshal fell into the lake and, able to swim only a few strokes, needed rescuing. Graham Fitch, a former captain of the High Post club in Salisbury, said: “It was not funny at the time. I was frightened – it&aposs no good saying I wasn&apost.” “I was up to my neck and I can swim only a few yards, so I cried out for help.” “At first someone came with an umbrella to try to pull me back to dry land, but I couldn&apost reach it and every time I tried to put a foot down I went further in.” “But another marshal was brilliant then. He came in and pushed me so I could reach the rocks and clamber out.” “I&aposd been watching drives and had taken a few backward steps when suddenly I did the splits and went down into the water like going down a children&aposs slide.” Jean Van de Velde – famous, of course, for his water exploits in the 1999 Open at Carnoustie – was playing the hole at the time. Second Round of the Portugal Masters (Par 72) -11: Stuart Manley 65 68 -10: Alvaro Quiros 66 68 -9: Magnus A Carlsson 69 66, Paul Lawrie 70 65 -8: Felipe Aguilar 68 68, Gregory Bourdy 69 67, Robert Karlsson 69 67, Jean-Francois Lucquin 67 69, Jyoti Randhawa 66 70 -7: Ross Fisher 67 70, Mark Foster 66 71, Martin Kaymer 72 65 -6: Soren Hansen 73 65, Barry Lane 68 70, Rory McIlroy 69 69, Graeme Storm 69 69, Anthony Wall 72 66 -5: Robert-Jan Derksen 71 68, Jamie Donaldson 69 70, Garry Houston 73 66, David Lynn 70 69, Phillip Price 69 70, Marcel Siem 68 71, Steve Webster 72 67, Lee Westwood 72 67 Also: -4: Richard Green (Australia) 71 69 +3: Peter O&aposMalley (Australia) 74 73 +5: Mark Brown (New Zealand) 76 73 +10: Peter Fowler (Australia) 76 78