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Friday, 19 March 2010

A stunning birdie-eagle finish helped South African Mark Murless maintain his lead at the Joburg Open.

With two holes left to play Murless, after a steady round featuring one birdie and a bogey, trailed the clubhouse leader, his compatriot Warren Abery, by one shot.

But a pair of threes on the final two holes catapulted Johannesburg based Murless into the lead, which he held onto despite a late charge from Spaniard Pablo Larrazabal.

Larrazabal recovered from dropping a shot at the fourth to post a birdie and an eagle at the eighth and ninth holes respectively.  

Another birdie at the par four 17th saw him to a 36 hole total of 134, one shot off the lead.
 
Larrazabal is in turn trailed by one shot by the South African trio of Abery, Charl Coetzee and Tyrone Ferreira, who shared the lead after day one.

Abery’s round of 65, which featured four birdies on the front nine, was the joint lowest of the day.

He said: “It’s a grind out there, and I had to make a few good putts to save par.

“My putting was the key today. On a course which is playing so long, your short irons and approaches to the greens are very important.

“I changed my putting grip to a claw grip just before Leopard Creek. I still didn’t hit my putts as well as I would have liked there, but it’s really come together over the last two days.”

The other big movers on a day which was again marked by heavy rain were the English pairing of Iain Pyman and Paul Waring, who posted rounds of 68 and 67 respectively, and Swede Magnus A Carlsson, whose five birdies on the front nine helped him to a 66.
 
Pyman said: “I played really well, because it is difficult out there with the rain. You’re hitting a lot of long irons out there, and it’s difficult to get the ball close to the pins. So you must hit the fairways, because you need decent lies.”

Northern Ireland’s Darren Clarke also made seven birdies on his way to a 65, which left him five shots off the pace.

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