Date: September 06, 2008

Rumford gets hot

Australian Brett Rumford has ignited his title defence with a sizzling second round at the Omega European Masters in Switzerland. Rumford was the man who put the pressure on overnight leader Rory McIlroy by closing the three-stroke gap the teenager enjoyed after 18 holes. His second successive 67 put the Australian equal with McIlroy at the head of the leaderboard at eight-under-par with two rounds remaining. McIlroy no longer leads on his own, but he still has a great chance to become the youngest winner on the European Tour since Seve Ballesteros won the first of his record 50 titles. Rumford could also be linked to Ballesteros on Sunday. The Spanish star was the last player to make a successful defence of the title in 1978. The 31-year-old from Perth is playing only his second event this year, having switched to the US Tour after coming through their qualifying school. He has still to secure a card for next season there, but says: “There is absolutely nothing not to like about America and there is nothing I have found which has made me say I want to come back to Europe.” “That said, Europe is a fantastic Tour as well. They both offer different things.” McIlroy shot his lowest round as a pro – by three – in the opening round and it was inevitable he could not completely switch off back at his hotel. He ended up watching American football deep into the night. “I just want to take it one step at a time, but I caught myself thinking about it last night and put the tennis on to take my mind off it,” he said. “Then I had to get up for a drink at about 4am and the New York Giants were playing the Washington Redskins, so I watched a bit of that.” While Rumford grabbed the second-round headlines, compatriot Scott Barr stayed in touch with a 68 to be three shots off the pace. Marcus Fraser, who shot 74 in his first round, got back even with a 68, level with Matthew Millar (72). Second Round of the European Masters (Par 71): -8: Rory McIlroy 63 71, Brett Rumford (Australia) 67 67 -7: Juan Abbate 68 67, Alejandro Canizares 67 68, Jean-Francois Lucquin 68 67 -6: Fredrik Andersson Hed 69 67, Simon Dyson 69 67, Peter Lawrie 67 69 -5: Scott Barr (Australia) 69 68, Emanuele Canonica 67 70, Julien Clement 69 68, Mikko Ilonen 67 70, Miguel Angel Jimenez 68 69, Louis Oosthuizen 69 68, Carlos Rodiles 71 66, Jarmo Sandelin 71 66, Patrik Sjoland 69 68 -4: Mark Foster 72 66, Gary Orr 67 71, Julio Zapata 66 72 Also: -2: Michael Campbell (New Zealand) 69 71 -1: Steve Alker (New Zealand) 71 70 E: Marcus Fraser (Australia) 74 68, Matthew Millar (Australia) 70 72 +3: Kane Webber (Australia) 75 70 +5: Gareth Paddison (New Zealand) 71 76 +7: Peter Fowler (Australia) 74 75 +9: Terry Pilkadaris (Australia) 72 79