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Friday, 19 March 2004
Barry Lane, fast approaching his 500th tournament in his 23rd season on The European Tour, showed that he retains an incredible zest for the game of golf with a second round 65 to share second place behind halfway leader Mamat Mardan of the host country in the Caltex Masters, presented by Carlsberg, Singapore, 2004.

Lane is handily placed on 136, eight under par, with Damien McGrane, one of the young up-and-coming players on The European Tour, and Asian Tour players Greg Hanrahan of the United States, New Zealand’s Eddie Lee and India’s Jyoti Randhawa after two rounds at Laguna national Golf & Country Club.

The second round was completed early on Saturday morning following Thursday’s storm-delay, but Lane was unfazed as he accrued eight birdies in his 65 as local favourite Mardan tagged a 68 on to his opening 67 for 135, nine under par.

A total of 78 players made the halfway cut on level par and better after the last dozen players left on the course at nightfall on Friday completed their rounds.

A Ryder Cup player in 1993 and winner of four Tour titles – his last in 1994 – Lane is playing in his 496th tournament to lie tenth on the all-time European Tour list behind Sam Torrance, who will take a bit of catching on 686.

“Yes, 496 and another six years until the Seniors Tour” acknowledged Lane, whose infectious enthusiasm for the game shines through in everything he says and does. “Twenty three years on Tour is a long time but I absolutely love it. I don’t enjoy the travelling so much nowadays but I love the competitiveness of the Tour and getting the chance to play with these fearless young lads.

“I played with Charl Schwartzel last week in Qatar. He told me he was 18! I mean, I am old enough to be his dad! It’s a hard game nowadays with so many young players out there but I really love playing with them. They are a breath of fresh air.”

Mardan, aiming to become the first player from Singapore to win on the Asian or European Tours in this joint-sanctioned event, admitted: “My concentration has been very good the last two rounds. I expected weather delays and long waits but it doesn’t borther me. I want to concentrate hard and take it one step at a time over the weekend.”

Hanranhan shot a pair of 68 to join Lane at eight under along with Randhawa, who climbed from level to that mark with a second round of 64 to follow an opening 72. Meanwhile Lee, the 20 year old Korean-born Kiwi, took the opposite route with 74-72 to join the quintet just behind the leader.

It was one of The European Tour’s ‘young bucks’ as described by Lane, to pick up the gauntlet for his age group by signing for a second successive 68. A graduate of last year’s Qualifying School Finals the man from County Wexford played a total of 26 holes in completing his delayed first round and his second 18 holes.

“It’s been a tough day – not really my cup of tea” he said. “But it’s over now and I would have settled for this position after two rounds. I managed to stave off tiredness and managed to keep my concentration in this heat and humidity.”

Norways’ Henrik Bjornstad enjoyed a remarkable run as he notched up a second round 66 for a five under par total of 139. Starting at the tenth, Bjornstad holed a six iron second shot from 155 metres at the par four 14th for an eagle two – then pitched in from 30 metres for an eagle three at the next.

As if back to back eagles was not sufficient, his wedge at the 16th bounced just short of the pin and rolled agonisingly past the cup for a tap-in birdie three. He smiled; “Everything turned around on these three holes. I don’t think I’ve ever had consecutive eagles before.”

Scotland’s Colin Montgomerie carded a three under par 69 for a total of 140 and was satisfied with a bogey-free round. He commented: “I’ve only made one bogey all week so everything’s fine. It’s hard work and you’ve got to keep away from the water but now I’m five behind, I can win from here.”

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