Englishmen Steve Webster and Paul Casey were the big movers on the second day of the ANZ Championship at Horizons Golf Resort with Webster pulling one point clear of first round leader Nick O’Hern, and defending champion Casey advancing to joint third place after equaling the best round of the day.
Webster, who fired an opening 66 worth 14 points in the modified stableford format, started his second round with a bogey but then landed a hat-trick of birdies from the fifth and then another four birdies to card another 66 - this one worth 13 points - giving him a score 27 points.
Webster has finished runner-up on five occasions during his career but a maiden victory has so far eluded him, a statistic he will be aiming to put right over the coming weekend. On this occasion he had Ian Woosnam to thank for his rise to the top of the leaderboard after the former Masters Champion revitalized his game with after four hour lesson on the range.
After missing the cut in the dunhill championship in South Africa and again in last week’s Heineken Classic, Webster headed for the range on Saturday where he bumped into Woosnam.
“Woosie gave me a lesson and got me hitting the ball really well again,” said the 29 year old. “I was swinging terrible and he told me that. My set up was all out, my ball position, just about everything. He had a good look at me and gave me a few bits of advice.
“He is a great natural golfer. It was very simple what he told me but it was very hard to do it at first because my swing was off plane. But I am starting to get a feel for it.”
O’Hern, runner-up to Casey in last year’s ANZ Championship, was unable to repeat his 18 point first day performance but still holds outright second, making two birdies and two bogeys on the front nine and three more birdies on the way home to complete a round of 69 worth eight points, bringing his total to 26.
Casey, who picked up only four points in the first round, fired ten birdies and one bogey in a brilliant second round of 63, picking up 19 points to move to 23 points through 36 holes. His 19 point haul was matched only by Australian Bradley Hughes.
“I played nice holes yesterday and made quite a few birdies and an eagle but far too many mistakes. Today was the same sort of thing but without the mistakes, just one dropped shot that in the scale of things was not a big deal because birdies are more important that bogeys. After two rounds I am very happy with the position I am in.”
Frenchman Thomas Levet played a blemish free second round that featured two hat-tricks of birdies from the third and 12th holes before birdieing the last to finish with a score of 23 and a share of third place with Casey.
Peter O’Malley added a 68 to his opening 67, his eagle on the 472-metre fourth adding to three birdies and one bogey for ten points, taking him to 22 points alongside Michael Campbell. The New Zealander, playing alongside Casey, doubled his score with a second round 68 worth 11 points. The New Zealander played the back nine first in just 31 strokes, before spoiling his seven birdie round with three bogeys on the front nine.