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The Malaysian Insider :: Sports


Els moves ahead of Goosen to lead South Africa Open

Posted: 18 Dec 2010 07:02 PM PST

File photo of Ernie Els of South Africa tees off on the ninth hole during the third round of the Deutsche Bank Championship in Norton, Massachusetts on September 5, 2010. — Reuters pic

DURBAN, Dec 19 — Ernie Els fired a second consecutive round of seven-under-par 65 to take a two-shot lead after the second round of the rain-hit South African Open at the Durban Country Club yesterday.

South African Els, who began the day trailing overnight leaders Retief Goosen and Alex Cejka by one stroke, moved clear after a bogey-free round.

Els will head into a marathon 36 holes today at 14-under-par while Goosen, who signed for a second round four-under-par 68 moved to 12-under-par for the tournament.

The South African veterans will be joined in the final third round grouping by 19-year-old French rookie Romain Wattel who followed up his five-under-par in the first round with a six-under par second round 66 for a total of 133.

British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen struck four birdies and an eagle after the turn for a 67 and is a shot further back on 10 under along with fellow South African Charl Schwartzel.

Goosen made a steady start to his round with seven consecutive pars then made his move around the turn with three birdies before closing with a birdie on the short par four 18th.

Wattel, playing in his first European Tour event, enjoyed a solid front nine which saw him fire three birdies and an eagle on the 501-yard par-five eighth hole after he chipped in after his second shot found the fringe of the green.

With the wind once again refusing to blow on the coastal course Els took full advantage of his early tee-time to set himself up perfectly in his quest for a fifth SA Open title.

"I've been quite patient this week and played within myself. I would like to do that tomorrow because if you hit one bad shot on this course it can turn into a double-bogey pretty quickly," Els, the three-times winner told reporters.

The 41-year-old, who has had trouble with his putting in recent times, holed three birdies on his front nine before picking up four more shots on the way in.

"I feel like I'm hitting the ball nicely so it gives me a bit of confidence on the tees and my second shots," he said. "For a while I haven't felt very comfortable with my putting and it bothers you.

But I feel more at ease with myself and my game this week."

Only two-and-a-half hours play were possible on the first day of the tournament on Thursday because of torrential rain and players face two rounds today to complete the tournament.

Goosen said it would be no easy task.

"It's going to be a long walk. It is quite a hilly course and the first 18 holes should be okay but it will be the survival of the fittest when we go out again," he explained.

The organisers' decision to move the cut line to 50 plus ties instead of 65 plus ties in an attempt to complete two rounds on the final day meant that the mark was set relatively low at three-under. — Reuters

 

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Sunderland beat freeze and Bolton to go sixth

Posted: 18 Dec 2010 05:19 PM PST

LONDON, Dec 19 — Sunderland took full advantage of beating the freeze as they battled to a 1-0 home win over Bolton Wanderers yesterday to climb to sixth in the Premier League.

In the only other top-flight game to survive the Arctic weather, managerless Blackburn Rovers drew 1-1 at home with bottom club West Ham United.

Heavy snowfall and sub-zero temperatures put paid to the rest of yesterday's and today's games, including the Stamford Bridge showdown between champions Chelsea and league leaders Manchester United.

United have 34 points to the 32 of Arsenal and Manchester City, who will go top if they beat Everton at home on Monday.

Chelsea have 31 points with Tottenham Hotspur and Sunderland both on 27. Bolton slip to seventh on 26.

Sunderland, along with Manchester United the only teams with an unbeaten home record, have now won five and drawn four of their nine games at the Stadium of Light.

They got their goal yesterday after 32 minutes when Darren Bent did well to control a deep cross and after his shot was parried by Jussi Jaaskelainen Danny Welbeck threw himself at the rebound to head his fifth goal in six games.

Sunderland had Craig Gordon to thank for keeping them ahead when their goalkeeper brought back memories of one of the club's most famous moments — Jim Montgomery's amazing save in the 1973 FA Cup final upset win over Leeds United.

After a corner was nodded back across the six-yard box Zat Knight shot goalwards from point-blank range only for Gordon to somehow get a hand to the ball, which was almost past him, and divert it up and over the bar.

Bolton pressed hard for the equaliser in the second half and Ivan Klasnic had two great chances in the dying moments but failed to connect properly on both occasions.

"If at the start of the season you'd offered me sixth place at Christmas I would have been pretty happy to take it," said Sunderland manager Steve Bruce, who was forced to apologise to the club's fans following a 5-1 thrashing by local rivals Newcastle United two months ago.

"We have a bit of spirit, some hard work and we have some good players too."

Blackburn, who sacked manager Sam Allardyce on Monday, led at Ewood Park with a scrambled effort by Ryan Nelson early in the second half.

West Ham, so hard-hit by injuries that they had to give a debut to fourth-choice goalkeeper Ruud Boffin, earned a desperately-needed point through Junior Stanislas 12 minutes from time to ease the pressure on manager Avram Grant for a few days at least. — Reuters

 

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