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Friday, 14 March 2008

Not even the rapidly setting sun on the beautiful Jeju Island could stop Graeme McDowell’s charge to the summit of the Ballantine’s Championship leaderboard.

The Northern Irishman posted a brilliant second round 64 to move into a two stroke lead over Sweden’s Johan Edfors and India’s Jeev Milkha Singh at the halfway stage.

As the two and a quarter hour morning delay (due to high winds at the Pinx Golf Club) took its toll on the second round field, McDowell, along with Edfors, Singh and Padraig Harrington ignored the fading light to bring a shining finish to the second days play at this, The European Tour’s first tournament in Korea.

The second round will be completed on Saturday morning, but McDowell’s sparkling 64, rounded off with an improbable birdie on the 490 yard par four 18th in near darkness, was the jewel in the Ballantine’s Championship second day crown.

With rounds of 65 and 66 to move to ten under par, Edfors and Singh certainly added to the potent flavour of this outstanding new tournament, while Harrington, the Open Champion, produced his own illuminating 65 to join Thomas Björn and Anthony Kim on eight under par and in serious contention to make a victory charge over the weekend.

The same can be said for the likes of Korea’s Kim Hwang-tae and Ireland’s Paul McGinley, who had set the early pace at the Pinx Golf Club with morning scores of 66 and 67 to move to nine under par 135, while Chris DiMarco (six under) and home favourite K.J Choi (four under) are by no means out of the running.

But McDowell is the man in charge with two days play remaining, and the 28 year old is relishing being at the top of the leaderboard.

“I’m excited about the weekend now. I am striving for consistency this year and trying to give myself as many chances as possible to play at the business end of tournaments. I think this is the fifth time out of seven that I have given myself a chance at the weekend so that all I can ask for.

“Shooting 64 today was very pleasant and I feel happy with what I am doing – I feel I am putting well enough to really have a chance to win this tournament.”

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