Omega ambassador Sergio Garcia distances himself from the pack
The Spaniard certainly benefited from the early start that offered softer greens. A quick scan across the scoreboard comparing matches departing in the morning with those departing in the afternoon left no doubt about how much the greens were firming up: Sergio Garcia was one of only two players to score an eagle on the fifth - a score that was in any case a rarity throughout the afternoon. The shot was particularly special for El Nino, since he confessed that he had been trying to hit the green for three years and this was the first time that he had succeeded. The world number six carded a six under par round to give him a comfortable three-shot lead over his closest pursuer.
Playing with the leader also seemed to rub off on the Ryder Cup captain Ian Woosnam today. After a disappointing round of 72 yesterday, the Welshman carded a respectable 67 to take him to 3 under par overall and thus take him the right side of the watershed that will see half of the players eliminated tonight.
Despite a less favourable afternoon start, yesterday's joint leader Garry Houston nevertheless managed to extend his lead. A rollercoaster ride over the front nine left him on level par, despite an eagle on the first hole. Yet he recovered on the back nine with three birdies and only one dropped shot on the 13th to finish on eight under par overall after his second round.
Frenchman Jean Van de Velde put in a strong second-round performance to match Garcia's second round score of 65 and take third place overall ahead of a chasing group comprising two Englishmen - Paul Broadhurst and Graeme Storm, and two Swedes - Pierre FULKE and Martin ERLANDSSON (Swe) on six under par.
Title holder Luke Donald did not fare as well in the baking afternoon sun, carding a one-over 72 on his second round to leave him on 4 under par overall. More fine weather has been forecast and is sure to make the final two rounds just as challenging and exciting as the first two.
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