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Lara still on top of Hong Kong Open

Jose Manuel Lara is still leading after the second round of Hong Kong Open. Randhawa and Jeev share fourth place.

india Updated: Nov 17, 2006 17:53 IST

Defending champion Colin Montgomerie climbed up the leaderboard on Friday after the second round of the Hong Kong Open, while overnight leader Jose Manuel Lara fired a 4-under-par 66 to cling to first place.

Lara's two-round total of 10-under 130 gave him a one stroke edge over Gregory Bourdy of France, who had a blemish-free round with four birdies for a 4-under 66 in the $2 million (euro1.56 million) tournament, jointly sanctioned by the Asian and European Tours. South Africa's Retief Goosen missed the cut, set at 140, by one stroke after hitting three birdies against two bogeys and a double bogey for a 1-over 71.

"Tee to green, I thought I was excellent today, but I putted very badly," Goosen said. "I couldn't read the lines on the green and I had, I think, 34 putts."

Hobbled by an injured ankle, New Zealand's Michael Campbell struggled to stay in contention, shooting three birdies against four bogeys for a one-over 71 that put him nine strokes off the lead. Campbell, who walked with a slight limp, said his ankle gave out on him during Wednesday's pro-am warm-up and he almost quit after Thursday's first round.

Scottish Ryder Cup star, Montgomerie was worried about missing the cut after finishing one-under par in the first round because of poor putting. But he charged back on Friday with a 4-under 66 that left him five strokes off the leaders.

"I hit the ball closer to the hole. That was all really. Hit the ball closer and holed few putt. The front nine was OK," said Montgomerie, who sank four of his five birdies on the outgoing nine. But his woes on the greens returned on the back nine when he three-putted a par-three hole. He said he was having difficulty with the speed of the greens due to the grain.

"I am back in the tournament but disappointed really, as that could have been very good, very good, as yesterday should have been. Never mind. We are still back in there," said Montgomerie, who had a two-round total of 5-under 135.

Spaniard Lara, who made five birdies for a first round 4-under 66, also got off to a strong start at last month's Volvo Masters and the Mallorca Classic, both in Spain, where he led the early rounds before fading. He expected a tough contest in the last two days at Hong Kong.

"I think it will be very tight. No player will win by five," Lara said.

Sitting two strokes off the lead were Australian Andrew Buckle (65), China's Zhang Lianwei (63) and Juvic Pagunsan of the Philippines (65) with a two-round total of 8-under 132. Buckle, who was bogey free with five birdies, was still unsatisfied with his game.

"I would like to hit it a bit better the last two days," he said. "I hope to improve my putting. I struggled a bit with the speed of the green."

After sharing the overnight lead with Lara, Jyoti Randhawa fell three strokes off the lead, shooting a 69.

"It was tough to judge shots, especially on the greens," said Randhawa, who last month won his second Indian Open title. "But shooting a bad round and coming out with a one-under and still in the top five, I'll take that."

Randhawa shared fourth place with his compatriot Jeev Milkha Singh, Asia's top earner with US$470,108 (euro366,584). Singh could clinch the Asian Order of Merit with a win in Hong Kong. The Hong Kong Open is the second tournament of 2007 European Tour season.

First Published: Nov 17, 2006 17:53 IST