Friday, 17 June 2005
England’s James Heath put together an impressive and flawless five under par 66 to surge to the head of the dual ranking Aa St Omer Open leaderboard as the tournament reached the halfway point. The 22 year old, a protégé of England’s most successful golfer Nick Faldo, holds a three shot lead over Sweden’s Pelle Edberg and England’s Shaun Webster going into the weekend at Aa St Omer Golf Club.

Heath, playing in his fifth European Tour event of the season, picked up five birdies to return the first bogey-free score of the tournament and move to six under par 136.

“I played nicely today – gave myself a lot of chances, holed a few of them so that was nice,” said Heath after signing for 66. “No dropped shots as well and it’s always good to do that, especially round here because this is quite a tricky golf course that’s tough in places.

“It was just a good solid round really. Like I said, gave myself good chances and made a couple of really good up and downs when I needed to and played really well over the last few holes – it maybe could have been a bit better but I bet everybody in the field will say that.”

Heath’s objective, in this his rookie season as a professional, is to string together four consistent rounds as he bids to secure his maiden professional victory, having shown glimpses of the kind of golf that makes European Tour champions.

He shared the lead with a 63 in The Celtic Manor Wales Open two weeks ago before fading, and also contended strongly during the opening stages of last week’s KLM Open before missing the halfway cut.

“Putting the four rounds together is what I have to do now, but it’s just nice to be playing good golf again to be honest. It would be nice to put the four rounds together but I know it’s going to happen eventually – it’s not like it’s never going to happen. I just have to wait and see if it’s going to be now or in a few months time. I will just try my best and see what happens.”

Edberg carded a two under 69 to move into second place. The 26 year Swede – a 2004 European Tour Qualifying School graduate – could have been leading the tournament had it not been for a quadruple bogey eight on the par four 16th, his seventh hole of the day, but he remains in a strong position going into the final 36 holes.

As does Webster, the man who won the 1998 Aa St Omer Open. The 28 year old began the second round with a dropped shot at the first, but redeemed himself well with four birdies to join Edberg in second place.

Two more Englishmen, Ross Fisher, who has grown up playing junior and Amateur golf alongside Heath, and James Hepworth share fourth place on two under par after respective rounds of 70 and 71, with no less than 13 players tied together on one under including current Challenge Tour Number One Rafael Gomez of Argentina.

The halfway cut was set at three over par 145, with 77 players set to do battle for the €66,660 top prize as well as the treasured one year exemption to The European Tour.

Of the 79 players to miss the cut, Englishman Lewis Atkinson was undoubtedly the happiest. The 26 year old holed in one on the par three 17th and won a brand new Renault Modus car, which softened the blow of missing out on the final two rounds at the Aa St Omer Open.

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