Date: May 31, 2008

Strange dominating in Wales

The Wales Open will resume on Saturday with Australian Scott Strange eyeing the main prize and with its star attraction nowhere to be seen. The 31-year-old from Perth ranked 164th in the world, is the man the rest were trying to catch after marvellous rounds of 63 and 66 on the newly unwrapped lay-out where Europe and America will do Ryder Cup battle in two years&apos time. Two wins on the Asian Tour have been the highlight of Strange&aposs professional career so far, but in his first full season as a European Tour member he has already finished joint runner-up at the Johnnie Walker Classic in India. “I&aposd love to win on every tour and to win here would be fantastic,” he said. “Playing in Asia is different to here, but I&aposm adapting quite well.” Asked what his first impressions of this particular course were Strange replied: “I was swimming down the fairways it was so wet.” Open champion Padraig Harrington crashed out of Celtic Manor when a second round 74 sent him to his first missed cut on European soil since October 2006. Harrington liked what he saw on first view, but come the tournament he was never able to produce anything like the form that brought him his first major title at Carnoustie last July. That remains his last victory, but he is staying upbeat about the US Open the week after next. After bowing out on two over, a massive 15 strokes behind Strange, the Dubliner said he still felt good about Torrey Pines, adding: “It&aposs actually been quite a positive week.” As the second round headed towards its conclusion amid more showers Strange led by four from a group which included England&aposs Robert Dinwiddie and Benn Barham and also Spaniard Alvaro Velasco, who was last man onto the course and still had eight holes to play. Colin Montgomerie&aposs 68 for five under, one better than Darren Clarke, meant he was not out of the running, although it needs a major effort over the weekend just to get into the hunt, but last year&aposs winner Richard Sterne and runner-up Bradley Dredge were heading out along with Harrington. Second Round of the Celtic Manor Wales Open (Par 71): -13: Scott Strange (Australia) 63 66 -9: Benn Barham 69 64, Robert Dinwiddie 68 65, Jeev Milkha Singh 65 68, Alvaro Velasco 65 68 -8: Rafa Echenique 67 67, Raphael Jacquelin 66 68, Robert Karlsson 67 67, Ross McGowan 66 68, Edoardo Molinari 64 70 -7: Gonzalo Fdez-Castano 67 68, Hennie Otto 67 68, Peter Whiteford 68 67 -6: Nick Dougherty 67 69, Ricardo Gonzalez 66 70, Soren Hansen 68 68, Pablo Larrazabal 69 67 Also: -1: Peter O&aposMalley (Australia) 69 72, Gareth Paddison (New Zealand) 73 68 E: Peter Fowler (Australia) 71 71 +1: Mark Brown (New Zealand) 70 73