Mcdowell Takes Halfway Lead at Ballantine's Championship

Sat 15 Mar 2008

Mcdowell Takes Halfway Lead at Ballantine's Championship

Jeju Island, Korea, March 15: Northern Ireland?s Graeme McDowell maintained his lead after the completion of the second round at the inaugural Ballantine?s Championship on Saturday.
Play was suspended due to darkness on Friday and resumed only at 7.30am (local time) on Saturday.

McDowell, who completed his round on Friday, finished strongly with the round?s best score of eight-under-par 64 to take the halfway lead.
McDowell?s 12-under-par 132 total left the 28-year old two strokes better than Sweden?s Johan Edfors and India?s Jeev Milkha Singh, who are both tied for second on 134 after the start of the second round was delay for almost two hours due to strong winds.

Unheralded Kim Hyung-tae of Korea and Ireland?s Ryder Cup star, Paul McGinley are a shot further back in joint-fourth position after carding matching 135s at the US$2.9 million event sanctioned by the Asian Tour, European Tour and Korean PGA.

McDowell took advantage of the calmer weather in the afternoon due to his late start to produce a blemish-free round highlighted by an eagle on the 10th and six birdies.

?We got lucky with the weather this afternoon.  It was blowing 30 miles an hour probably when we teed off, so much so that I drove it on the first green and mysteriously, the wind just dropped.  It was amazing!? said McDowell.

?I?m very happy, obviously fortunate and nice to play well and give myself a chance this weekend.?

2006 Asian Tour Order of Merit winner, Singh continued his amazing comeback from a freak accident last week and a flu bug to move up one position to second after finishing his round in near darkness.

?I?m used to playing in such darkness when I?m at home but not the cold! We were running after the 17th as we wanted to tee off on the 18th to make sure we finished our rounds,? said Singh.

?I think I had more joy of finishing and finishing the way I did with six-under today. I couldn?t have asked for better. Now I can enjoy my meal!?

Kim survived the early gusty conditions at the Pinx Golf Club, finishing with a 66 to match McGinley, who had started the day in joint-third after play had resumed.

Kim started the day in joint-13 position and played it safe by going for pars amidst the windy conditions. That strategy paid off for the 30-year old Korean.

?My caddie and I took very cautious approach in reading the lies and because of the strong winds, I tried to go for pars, but the winds helped me with several birdies chances, resulting in good scores,? said a delighted Kim.
McGinley, starting on the 10th tee got off to a start he had wanted with an opening birdie but made even pars in his back-nine after that. He only turned on full throttle, firing off four consecutive birdies starting from the fourth hole after the turn to race into contention.

?It?s a great start and good position. I?m pleased obviously,? said McGinley who did not let the strong winds affect his game today.
?My record over the years in windy conditions has always been quite decent. Although the golf course was windy, it was still yielding chances for birdies,? added McGinley who reel in a total of five birdies.

The marquee names at this week?s US$2.9 million event sanctioned by the Asian Tour, European Tour and Korean PGA did not fail to disappoint.

Fast rising American sensation Anthony Kim, who already has six top-10 finishes on the US PGA Tour in just 17 months as a professional, produced another flawless performance to stay in contention for the title.

The American had initially planned to play it safe, going for pars in his second round today.

However, the strength of his drives presented the 22-year-old Californian with several birdies opportunities instead.

?I was trying to go more for pars than for birdies. But I guess the distance of my tee shots presented me with more birdie opportunities than pars,? laughed the big-hitting American.

Korea?s sporting icon, Choi Kyung-yu was left to rue several missed birdies chances but still managed to post a 69 to improve on his previous opening score of 71.
?Nothing really went bad today. It was just one of those days where the putts couldn?t go in and I missed a lot of birdie chances,? said Choi.

?I think I?m still in a good position for tomorrow, so I?m pretty happy. If I get my putting going, it?s going to improve,? added the current world number five.

Scotland?s Sandy Lye retired due to a wrist injury while Australia?s Unho Park and France?s Raphael Jacquelin withdrew due to sickness and personal reasons respectively.

A total of 67 players made the halfway cut which was set at even-par and will tee off the third round at 10:50am local time today.

Leading second round scores

132 - Graeme Mcdowell (NIR) 68-64

134 - Johan Edfors (SWE) 69-65; Jeev Milkha Singh (IND) 68-66

135 - Paul Mcginley (IRL) 68-67; Kim Hyung-tae (KOR) 69-66

136 - Anthony Kim (USA) 68-68; Thomas Bjorn (DEN) 70-66; Padraig Harrington (IRL) 71-65

137 - Terry Pilkadaris (AUS) 71-66; Hwang Inn-choon (KOR) 68-69; Mikko Ilonen (FIN) 67-70

138 - Chris Dimarco (USA) 70-68; Ariel Canete (ARG) 70-68; Shingo Katayama (JPN) 68-70

139 - Prayad Marksaeng (THA) 68-71; Oliver Wilson (ENG) 70-69; Thaworn Wiratchant (THA) 69-70; Kane Webber (AUS) 71-68

Selected scores

140 - Choi Kyung-yu (KOR) 71-69; Jyoti Randhawa (IND) 68-72;


About the Asian Tour

As the official sanctioning body for professional golf in Asia, the Asian Tour leads the development of golf across the region, enhancing the careers of its members while maintaining a commitment to the integrity of the game. The Asian Tour, through its membership of the International Federation of PGA Tours, is the only recognised pan-Asian professional golf tour in Asia.  This unique feature positions the Asian Tour at the pinnacle of professional golf in Asia; providing its events with Official World Ranking status. Tour Partners include Carlsberg (Official Beer), ESPN Star Sports (Official Regional TV Broadcaster), Pin High (Official Apparel Partner), Sofitel (Official Hotel) and Srixon (Official Ball). Sentosa, Singapore?s premier island resort getaway, is the Home of the Asian Tour.

For further information, please contact Asian Tour?s Calvin Koh at the Ballantine?s Championship media centre at +82 64 792 1976