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In-form Lara Leads the Way in Hong Kong

November 17, 2006 – Jose Manuel Lara continued his charge towards a maiden European Tour victory by grabbing the outright lead at the halfway stage of the US$2 million UBS Hong Kong Open.

The Spaniard added a fine second-round 66 on Friday to his opening 64 for a 10-under-par total of 130.

Lara had five birdies and a lone bogey at the Hong Kong Golf Club in Fanling to take a one-shot lead over Frenchman Gregory Bourdy, who also had a 66.

“I missed a few putts at the start of the round but saved a few with good bunker shots,” said Lara, who is seeking his first European Tour victory after a string of near misses – four runner-up spots and three third places.

“On the back nine, I played very well from tee to green. I missed a few chances as well, like on the 13th. I played very well.”

Lara, who started the second round as co-leader with India’s Jyoti Randhawa, added: “I’ve been playing well the last two months. I was leading the Mallorca Classic after two rounds and the Volvo Masters after the first round.

“I’ve been hitting the ball so well. I’ve just had a short break from those two tournaments, so I’m still confident.”

Bourdy, also seeking his first European Tour win, enjoyed a bogey-free round.

“I’m happy with my score – I think nine-under after two rounds is a good score here,” said the Frenchman.

“I will try to keep playing like this, shot by shot. My driving is good and my putting is steady, which is important on this course.”

The big mover in the second round was China’s Zhang Lianwei, who shot up the leaderboard with the lowest round of the day, a 63, to be two shots off the pace.

He was tied for third spot with Australian Andrew Buckle and Asian Tour rookie Juvic Pagunsan of the Philippines, who both shot 65.

Pagunsan was delighted with his effort and said he would not be nervous going toe-to-toe with the big guns over the weekend.

“Everything worked out and I played well,” he said. “I was driving the ball straight and my putting was steady. I’ve been consistent out on the course and now I feel I’ve a good chance for a strong result.

“I just plan to keep my focus and not get distracted. I’ve learnt to cope with the pressure. I’ll be relaxed tomorrow.”

Randhawa added a 69 to his opening 64 to stand at seven-under 133, three shots behind Lara.

“I struggled today,” he said. “I tried to keep my focus, but it got more windy and it got tougher. It was tough to judge shots, especially on the greens. But shooting a bad round and coming out with a one-under, I’ll take that.”

Randhawa was joined on seven-under by fellow Indian Jeev Milkha Singh, who shot a 67.

“I’m hitting some good shots and I’m in a good position right now,” said Singh, who is seeking his third European Tour title of the year.

UBS Hong Kong Open defending champion Colin Montgomerie leapt into contention with a 66 to reach five-under, five shots off the pace.

Former US Open champion Michael Campbell of New Zealand had a 71 to lie at one-under 139 for the tournament while Korean star KJ Choi (71) just made the cut, which was set at level-par 140.

But Retief Goosen, the 2001 and 2004 US Open champion, missed the weekend play by one stroke after a 71.

Leading second round scores
130 – Jose Manuel Lara (ESP) 64-66
131 – Gregory Bourdy (FRA) 65-66
132 – Juvic Pagunsan (PHI) 67-65, Andrew Buckle (AUS) 67-65, Zhang Lianwei (CHN) 69-63
133 – Jyoti Randhawa (IND) 64-69, Jeev Milkha Singh (IND) 66-67
134 – Damien McGrane (IRL) 68-66, Thammanoon Srirot (THA) 68-66, Simon Khan (ENG) 66-68, Adam Blyth (AUS) 66-68, Thongchai Jaidee (THA) 68-66, Anton Haig (RSA) 69-65
135 – Colin Montgomerie (SCO) 69-66, Angelo Que (PHI) 69-66, Jean Van de Velde (FRA) 68-67, Miguel Angel Jimenez (ESP) 68-67, Peter Lawrie (IRL) 71-64.



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