Friday, 03 August 2007

Per-Ulrik Johansson will take a four shot lead into the third round of the rain-affected Russian Open Golf Championship at Le Meridien Moscow Country Club.


The 40 year old Swede finished his superb second round 62 for a 13 under par total of 131 early on Friday afternoon but will have to wait until late into Saturday afternoon to see if he can extend that, thanks to the horrendous Russian weather.


Three and a quarter hours were lost to a flooded golf course on Thursday while no play at all was possible after 2.20pm on Friday thanks to more torrential downpours. Two further hours were lost on Saturday morning – bringing the total time lost to 12 ¼ hours – as greenkeeping staff continued the mopping up process to enable the second round to resume at 9.30am.


When it did, Ireland’s Gary Murphy made the biggest move to try and eat into Johansson’s advantage.


The 34 year old managed five holes on Friday before play ended and when he resumed, a bogey at the eighth saw him to the turn in 35. But the former Irish Amateur champion picked up on the inward half with birdies at the 11th, 12th and 15th to be home in 33 for 68 and a nine under par total of 135.


One shot behind Murphy were playing partners Alexandre Rocha of Brazil and the first round leader Christian Nilsson of Sweden who posted 68 and 71 respectively for an eight under par total of 136.


Both men could have joined Murphy on the nine under par mark but both dropped shots at the last, a bogey particularly disappointing for Rocha, the 29 year old Brazilian who finished joint winner of the 2006 European Tour Qualifying School, who had just eagled the 17th.


Scotland’s Alan McLean, England’s Adam Gee, Jean-Baptiste Gonnet of France and Robert-Jan Derksen of The Netherlands share fifth place on seven under par 137, McLean, the Canadian-based Scot, having the honour of the best round upon resumption with a 64.


While all the above players lived to fight another day, with the third round teeing off between 2.20pm and 4.10pm local time, there was disappointment for the Russian spectators when one of their favourites, amateur Dmitry Vinogradov narrowly missed out on competing in the final two rounds.


No Russian golfer has ever made the cut in the event but Vinogradov looked on course to be the first to do just that when he eagled the 15th and birdied the 17th to get to the cut mark of one over par 145 with just the 18th to play. But a poor approach shot to the last cost him a bogey five and the chance to make Russian golfing history.


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