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Shiv makes cut, lying tied 24th
February 10, 2006 20:56 IST
It was not as big a day for India's Shiv Kapur but he was the only Indian to make the cut at five-under on the second day at the Johnnie Walker Classic golf tournament in Perth on Friday.
From 11th, he dropped to tied-24th place after adding a 71 to his opening 68. While he was disappointed with a stuttering finish with one double bogey and a bogey, his playing partner Fred Couples, the 1992 Masters winner, predicted a rosy future for the 23-year-old.
"Shiv knows how to play golf," said Couples. "He's got his future ahead of him. I like his temperament. He hits the ball really solid. He's not long, he's not short. He's like Justin Leonard. He is really, really good. I like the way he plays. I think he will do really well," he said adding that the Indian will eventually play his way into the US PGA Tour.
Korea's Choi Kyung-ju charged into a two-shot halfway lead as he took a giant step towards delivering Asia's first winner in the prestigious tournament.
India's other two players, Gaurav Ghei (72-74) and Jeev Milkha Singh (73-78) missed the cut which came at one-under.
The man known better as K.J. Choi of Korea fired a blemish-free six-under-par 66 in the second round on a sun-kissed Vines Resort and Country Club and leads on 13-under-par 131 from overnight co-leader Kevin Stadler of the United States, who birdied his last for a 69.
A further two shots back are a trio of Australians, title-holder Adam Scott, Tony Carolan and left-hander Richard Green, enjoying a rich vein of form after finishing third in Dubai last week.
With the sun-baked greens firming up, co-overnight leader Scott, bidding to become the first player to successfully defend his Johnnie Walker Classic title, slipped back after scrambling to a 71 and rued a cold putter.
Ryder Cup star Ian Poulter of England, parading an assortment of Johnnie Walker-themed outfits this week, turned on the style with an impressive 66 to move to tied sixth place on 136 in the US$2.3 million event tri-sanctioned by the Asian, European and Australasian Tours.
The day certainly belonged to Choi, a three-time winner on the US PGA Tour. He once again got the measure of the slippery greens at The Vines, rolling in six birdies. Starting from the 10th, he turned in 32 and picked up two more shots on the second and third holes.
"I did really good with my putting and iron game. I just hope I can keep that going," said Choi, Asia's highest ranked player in the world at number 36.
"In my first two events this year, my putting was bad. I didn't have any control with the speed of the greens. But on the way to Perth, I was thinking the greens are very fast in Australia and I like fast greens like in Augusta National (venue of the US Masters). I'm more comfortable with fast greens as you just need to stroke the ball softer," added the Korean, who was third in the Masters two years ago.
Since the inauguration of the Johnnie Walker Classic in 1990, no Asian player has lifted the title where past winners include former world number ones Greg Norman, Nick Faldo, Ernie Els and Tiger Woods, currently the top-ranked player. Choi could well end that title drought but he is not ready yet to raise the celebratory toast.
"The end result is more important to me," said the 35-year-old Choi. "It (the tournament) is still in progress. If I have a chance to win, I will be very honoured to be in that position," said the Korean.
The 26-year-old Stadler, son of 1982 US Masters winner Craig Stadler, kept up his dream run, firing a 69 which included an eagle, two birdies and a bogey.
"It was pretty tough. The greens are getting fast and pretty hard. I putted alright, made a lot of pars. It was good to finish with a birdie, definitely," said Stadler, playing on a sponsor's invite this week.
Scott, who led with Stadler on Thursday with a 64, created numerous birdie chances but failed to drop the putts unlike Thursday's blistering start.
The talented Aussie, four off the lead, said: "There was nothing wrong with my game. I didn't make enough putts to push on the way I had hoped. I made heaps of chances, probably even more than I had in shooting 64 yesterday but hardly made any."
The halfway cut was set at two-under-par 142 with US Open champion Michael Campbell of New Zealand (146), world number three Retief Goosen of South Africa (144), Scotsman Colin Montgomerie (144) and Asian Tour number one Thaworn Wiratchant of Thailand (149) amongst the big-name casualties.
Leading Second Round Scores:
131 - K.J. Choi (KOR) 65-66
133 - Kevin Stadler (USA) 64-69
135 - Adam Scott (AUS) 64-71, Richard Green (AUS) 66-69, Tony Carolan (AUS) 66-69
136 - Peter Senior (AUS) 68-68, Ross Fisher (ENG) 69-67, Stephen Leaney (AUS) 70-66, Ian Poulter (ENG) 70-66, Scott Gardiner (AUS) 70-66, Francesco Molinari (ITA) 71-65, Gavin Flint (AUS) 72-64
137 - Paul Casey (ENG) 68-69, Robert Allenby (AUS) 69-68, Stephen Gallacher (SCO) 71-66
138 - Brett Rumford (AUS) 67-71, Nick O'Hern (AUS) 67-71, Marcus Fraser (AUS) 67-71, Craig Parry (AUS) 68-70, Fred Couples (USA) 71-67, Chris Campbell (AUS) 71-67, Prayad Marksaeng (THA) 72-66, Gary Simpson (AUS) 75-63
139 - Shiv Kapur (IND) 68-71, Peter O'Malley (AUS) 69-70, Paul Sheehan (AUS) 69-70, Raphael Jacquelin (FRA) 70-69, Mark Foster (ENG) 70-69, Andrew Marshall (ENG) 70-69, Steve Webster (ENG) 71-68, Kim Felton (AUS) 71-68, Richard Finch (ENG) 72-67, Anthony Wall (ENG) 72-67, Wang Ter-chang (TPE) 73-66, Leigh Mckechnie (AUS) 73-66.