Fraser holds narrow lead

4/23/2010 6:01:43 AM
Marcus Fraser  (Getty Images)
Marcus Fraser (Getty Images)

Australia's Marcus Fraser held onto a one shot first round lead midway through the second day of the weather-affected Ballantine's Championship, which has already been reduced to 54 holes.

Former Russian Open champion Fraser topped the leaderboard after Thursday`s fog-affected first day at Pinx Golf Club after carding a bogey-free seven under par 65.

Worksop's Mark Foster led the chase of his playing partner a shot further adrift blazing six birdies and an eagle and the Englishman was joined by Tano Goya after the Argentinian completed his own six under par 66 on Friday in bright sunshine and clear skies with a hat-trick of birdies.

"I am happy with my game although I have played only five tournaments this year, this is my sixth tournament. But I'm playing very good," said the 21 year old, who won last year's Madeira Islands Open BPI - Portugal.

"You get a bit of confidence sometimes and you start to play well. Last week I finished with a good round and that helps me a lot.

"It's a long season, but would be really good to start with a win and good finishes so this is very important for me this week."

Brett Rumford had briefly joined his compatriot Fraser at the top of the leaderboard after carding two eagles in a flawless 11 holes, but a three-putt bogey at the last represented a second dropped shot in four holes and he dropped back into a tie for fourth three shots off the pace alongside in-form Welsh rookie Rhys Davies, England's Robert Rock and Korea's Ted Oh.

Trophee Hassan II winner Davies, who finished joint runner-up last week in the Volvo China Open, completed a five-under-par first round with a final hole par, while Rock picked up a birdie at the last after playing three holes.

"It was a little frustrating, we had an incident last night (Thrursday) where we were on the 17th green and it looked like the the hooter was about to go and I was about to run up to the last and hit off, because if we hit off, we could finish, but the hooter and we had to come back at seven this morning," said 24-year-old Davies.

"Yesterday was a long day. It did take a long time, but it was same for everybody and I suppose in a way we don't have to play 36 holes today so that might be a bonus.

"But having said that I was able to switch off when I wasn't playing and when I got out there, I felt pretty fresh and ready so I think that was important."

After over six hours were lost on Thursday due to fog, officials have taken the decision to reduce the tournament to 54 holes with the third and final round to be played on Sunday after a traditional 36 hole cut tomorrow as more fog and delays are expected over the next few days.

"Following the delays to the first round and after reviewing the amount of golf completed yesterday (Thursday), it has become clear that the completion of 72 holes within the required time frame is not feasible," said a statement from tournament directors John Paramor & Jitti Tamprasert.

"Therefore the 2010 Ballantine's Championship will be decided over three rounds (54 holes)."

Fraser, Foster, Davies and Rock along with the remaining players from Thurday`s morning groups will not play their second rounds until Saturday, while the remaining half of the field including Goya face a long second day as the majority will attempt to play virtually two rounds on Friday.

Welshman Jamie Donaldson and Australia's Rick Kulacz both sat two shots off the pace overnight, but unlike Davies and Rock, made disappointing finishes to their first round to drop back to four under par alongside a group including in-form trio Oliver Fisher, Ernie Els and Anthony Kim.

PGA Championship winner YE Yang will also return to the course on Friday afternoon, but last week's Volvo China Open winner faces a battle to even beat the cut on his home island of Jeju after shipping two double bogeys and an eagle in a five over par 77.