Date: January 18, 2008

Rumford and Elk within touch

DJ Trahan and Robert Gamez were level at the top of the leaderboard after two rounds of the five-day Bob Hope Chrysler Classic as Brett Rumford and Steve Elkington led the way for the Australian contingent. Trahan, though, shot the joint lowest round of the day, his 64 at the Silver Rock course putting him 13-under-par alongside Gamez, who signed for a 65 in the multi-venue event. Justin Leonard, who won the event in 2005, also shot a 64 and is two strokes off the pace, one ahead of Elkington, who carded a 68 on day two. Four different golf courses are used in the Pro-Am event, which mixes celebrities and amateurs with professionals. Having recorded 30 putts in the first round, Trahan saw a big improvement in his second-round putting in sinking seven less as he carded birdies on his first four holes. He ranked 169th in putting average last year and has struggled on the greens for the majority of his young golf career. “I&aposve been working hard on my putter,” Trahan said. “I know now this is my fourth year out here and I know that it&aposs been the club that has certainly been holding me back from becoming a better player, having better results and hopefully winning more.” Gamez has more predictable putting statistics and made three putts 10 feet or longer in his bogey-free second round. After carding a six-under 66 at La Quinta on the first day, Elkington was a slightly more subdued figure on Thursday (US time), posting a four-under 68 at the Palmers Course. The Australian recorded three consecutive birdies between four and six before producing two bogeys on the front nine. However, Elkington responded with a further three birdies in the last five holes to close out the day just three strokes adrift of the leaders. One stroke further back is compatriot Brett Rumford, who also managed a four-under on day two, this time at the La Quinta Country Club. Rumford looked on fire as he posted a birdie and eagle on his front nine before bogeying the 14th hole. However, two birdies on the last two holes saw the Australian finish highly on the leaderboard at nine-under overall. A further stroke back is Australian Mark Hensby (five-under 67) at eight-under overall, while Matthew Goggin (one-over 73) and Nick Flanagan (two-under 70) are at six-under overall for the tournament. Matt Jones (two-under 70) is at four-under on the leaderboard, one stroke ahead of Rod Pampling (two-under 70) and John Senden (one-over 73), with Robert Allenby (three-under 69) and New Zealand&aposs Tim Wilkinson (one-over 73) at two-under overall. Further back, Nathan Green had a disappointing day as he carded a three-over 75 to be at one-under overall while Stephen Leaney produced a horrid six-over 78 to be at six-over on the leaderboard.