Friday, 19 March 2010

Argentina, the inaugural winners of the event under its past format back in 1953, took an impressive step towards a first success under the World Golf Championships umbrella when Angel Cabrera and Andres Romero romped into a three shot lead at the halfway stage of the WGC-Barbados World Cup at Sandy Lane Resort.

Cabrera, who finished runner-up with Eduardo Romero in the first WGC-World Cup in their native Argentina in 2000, has linked up with another Romero – Andres – who is more than half the age of his namesake, but doesn’t lack any of the older man’s golfing prowess.

Between them, the Argentine pair strung together a solid four under par 67 in the foursomes – a score matched by Scotland and bettered only by Spain – to move into the lead at 11 under par.

The Scots pair of Colin Montgomerie and Marc Warren – the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year on The European Tour – also shot 67 to add to an identical score in the fourballs on Thursday. They share second spot with Germany (69) and Sweden (70) at the halfway stage.

Spain, who fired a five under par 66, are tied for fifth with joint first round leaders South Africa, while England’s Luke Donald and David Howell produced the recovery of the day, improving from two under with five to play to a much more healthy six under par total of 136 with two rounds remaining.

Happily, after a bleak start to the morning, the inclement weather relented and Barbados was bathed in sunshine for most of the second round. That was the cue for Argentina to cut loose, and they did so in style, making four birdies and not dropping a single shot in the highly tricky ‘alternate shot’ format.

Cabrera, one of only four players to have been involved in every WGC-World Cup since the start of the revised event in 2000, felt the lead could have been ever greater. He said: “In the last eight holes we had chances for three or four more birdies. We had the chances, but we couldn’t make any of them.”

The 37 year old from Cordoba, admits he is enjoying the partnership with his 25 year countryman after five World Cups in tandem with Eduardo Romero and one with Ricardo Gonzalez.

“I have known Andres for a long time and I have also known for a long time that he is going to be a great player. He has already gone a good way, but he will be a great, great player. Am I surprised to be leading? No, why? We are not surprised to be there.”

Romero chimed in: “I wasn’t surprised because I knew we were playing very solid and things were going okay. It’s a pity we made a three putt on the 15th and only made par but it was a bogey-free round and that is good when you play this format.”

Scotland, who birdied four out of five holes from the fourth, were indebted to some fine putting by Warren for their move up the leaderboard. He laughed: “We had six birdies today and he holed all of them. That’s okay. We’re in with a shot and we’ll go for it at the weekend.

“I knew we had a good chance to win this year with Marc. To win the Challenge Tour, as he did, is very tough to do and then coming out on Tour and winning his first tournament against a Swede in Sweden (Robert Karlsson) was obvious proof that Marc can handle himself under that type of pressure.”

Warren added: “I’ve loved playing with Colin. He’s a great player and so solid tee to green and holing out. I feel that you are definitely one or two shots up at the start, you have so much confidence in him. It gives me confidence too.”

Three bogeys on the back nine resulted in Sweden’s Carl Pettersson and Henrik Stenson dropping back after a powerful start, while Germany’s Bernhard Langer and Marcel Siem spilled two strokes in the last five holes to enable Argentina to open up a healthy advantage.

By contract, four consecutive birdies from the 14th brought England right back into the picture. After a second round 70, Donald admitted; “We had no momentum at the beginning and a double bogey on the 13th meant we were three over for the day and nine off the lead.

“We decided to have some fun and make some birdies. David started rolling the putts in, which is what he’s supposed to do! That’s why I picked him – he’s a good putter. He started holing them from ten and 20 feet and that got us going again. It was a good finish and at least got us thinking about winning again.”

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