Saturday, 01 September 2007

Frenchman François Delamontagne surged into a share of the halfway lead with England's John E Morgan in the ECCO Tour Championship after the latter completed his weather-delayed second round on Saturday morning.

Delamontagne held the clubhouse lead overnight on 130, ten under par, after compiling a second round 65. Morgan returned to the course at 7.30am to finish his second round and joined Delamontagne on ten under with a 66 to add to his opening 64.

The big-hitting Delamontagne had come flying out of the blocks following a two hour suspension caused by heavy rain on Friday when he eagled the opening hole. He then birdied the third and fourth and picked up another shot on the eighth to reach the turn in 31.

He dropped his only stroke of the day on the 16th after a bad drive but made amends with a birdie on the very next hole on his way to completing a 36 hole aggregate of 130, ten under par. A third of the field are still to complete their second rounds following the rain delay and will resume at 7.30am on Saturday.

”Like yesterday I have played quite well,” commented Delamontagne. “I only had one bad shot – a missed drive that cost me a bogey.”

As a former European Tour player, Delamontagne has the benefit of a regular caddie unlike many of his counterparts on the Challenge Tour and admitted it did help.

“As I have been on The European Tour, I am fortunate that I can bring my own caddie every week. It’s a very big advantage,” he claimed.  

Morgan played steadily on his return to action in the morning, with just one birdie at the 17th to help him claim a share of the lead.

Delamontagne and Morgan both skipped past early pacesetter Iain Pyman of England, who rediscovered his putting stroke to force himself into contention with three under par 67.

Pyman lies on nine under par 131, two ahead of Swede Petter Bocian and three clear of fellow Englishman Phil Worthington and Welshman Jamie Donaldson, both of whom shot 63, South African James Kamte, who shot a 67, and Dutchman Inder Van Weerelt, who carded a 69.

Pyman, who in 1993 won the Amateur Championship and finished as the leading Amateur in The Open Championship, has five titles to his credit on the Challenge Tour. This season he has only missed two cuts in 15 events but finds himself in 68th position on the Challenge Tour Rankings, from which only the top 20 earn a place on The 2008 European Tour International Schedule. With just eight events remaining after this week, Pyman knows he needs a strong finish to the season if he is to regain his European Tour card.

“You have to win on the Challenge Tour, not finish in the mid 30s and 40s each week,” explained Pyman. “I have probably made more cuts than anyone this year and despite playing well all season, I have struggled to get the ball in the hole.”

A change to a two-ball putter a couple of weeks ago started to turn things around on the greens and Pyman needed only 28 putts in his opening round of 64 at Odense Golf Club, his best putting performance of the season. Although he suffered one blip in his second round, a three putt from four feet on the 12th for his only bogey of the day, Pyman was still positive after taking 32 putts in a four birdie 67.

“Putting well yesterday made all the difference,” he said. “I seem to be able to line the ball up better with the two-ball putter and they are starting to roll in.”


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