Miguel Angel Martin and Santiago Luna took Spain into the halfway lead in the 45th World Cup of Golf despite waiting 2¼ hours to complete their second round at The Mines Resort City, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The two Spaniards, paired with Tiger Woods and Mark O’Meara of the United States, had to return to the 18th green to putt out after play was suspended because of a thunderstorm.
Martin and Luna both two putted for pars to each complete superb 66s as Spain, four times winners, edged one ahead of the United States (O’Meara 65; Woods 68) with a 12 under par total of 272.
Philip Price, of Wales, shares the lead for the International Trophy for the leading individual player after an excellent 67 to tie Martin and Woods on the seven under par 135 mark as Wales, for whom David Park took 72, finished in a tie for fourth.
“I went back to the 17th after the rain delay and made an 18 foot eagle putt to add to four birdies in the round so that was nice,” said Price. “But it was a very long day, and David and I are still very much in contention, and it’s good to be sharing the individual lead.”
Both Martin and Luna notched six birdies alongside the World Cup favourites. “It was nice to play with Woods and O’Meara,” said Martin. “This was my first time with them, and both were gentlemen. I was very relaxed – we talked between shots. I also think we fired each other up.
“It’s too early to talk about our chances. But we are in a good position. We have both been hitting the ball well. The course is good for us – it would be nice to win the World Cup for Spain for a fifth time.”
O’Meara kept the United States in Spain’s slipstream with seven birdies in his 65 then said: “I’m glad I scored better. I’m getting to know the course better – and I just want to help my partner!”
Woods said: “We both played pretty good, and fed off each other.”
Sweden, winners in 1991, hold third place after Jarmo Sandelin and Patrik Sjöland shots 65 and 66 respectively for a seven under par total of 277 – one ahead of Argentina and Wales, and two in front of England.
Sandelin started on the tenth, making a birdie at the long 11th and another at the 182 yards 16th with a six iron to three feet before dropping the only shot of his round at the 18th. Then he played his next nine holes in 30 by holing five birdie putts ranging from three feet to 30 feet.
Sjöland had three birdies in his first nine holes, matching Sandelin’s birdie at the 16th – his seventh – with a six iron to ten feet, and three more on the other side including another two with a seven iron to seven feet at the 188 yards seventh. He said: “We played great – 66 and 65 were the highest scores we were going to make.”
Sandelin explained: “I felt very confident, very focused. Patrik and I played a lot together on the European Challenge Tour, we’re good friends, we encourage each other and we help each other out there all the time. I would love it if we made Europe’s Ryder Cup Team next time. We would make a good pairing. I saw at the Ryder Cup this year that it’s good to have a natural partner…unless, of course, you are a superstar like Tiger Woods who can go with anyone. Today I’m not that!”
Eduardo Romero and Angel Cabrera, buoyed by the news that the World Cup of Golf will be played in Buenos Aires next year, shot 68 and 69 respectively to ease Argentina into contention in the US$1,500,000 competition for which the winning team share US$400,000.
Romero packed six birdies into his round – Cabrera notched five – and said: “The humidity is terrible. We lost our concentration on the front nine, then had a good chat on the tenth tee because we knew how important it was to hang in. We’re in good shape – we can win from here. That would be great with the World Cup going to Argentina next year. It’s great news – the sport is really booming in our country.”
Mark James, with four birdies in a flawless 67, and Peter Baker (70) kept England in touch. “We played reasonably well,” said James. “It would be nice to win, and there is still a long way to go.” Baker added: “We just need to get a good run going – things can change very quickly, and dramatically, in this competiton.”
Padraig Harrington and Paul McGinley took 68 and 71 respectively to put Ireland in seventh place on 280. But McGinley confessed: “We lost ground because other teams were scoring well. But there are 72 holes to go – and we are certainly not out of it.”