Baker-Finch makes the cut at last

Ian Baker-Finch, the
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The Independent Online

Ian Baker-Finch, the former Open champion, enjoyed a welcome respite from an agonising loss of form when he survived the cut in a tournament for the first time in 17 months yesterday.

Baker-Finch saved himself from yet another early exit by the barest margin as he equalled the cut-off mark of four-over at the Canon Challenge in Sydney.

But the tall Australian remained 11 shots adrift of his fellow Australian John Senden, who leads the tournament with an aggregate 137, seven under par after 36 holes.

Baker-Finch fired a two-under-par 70 after his first-round 78 to finish four over par for the tournament. It was his best performance since qualifying for the final 36 holes at the Queensland Open in October, 1994.

Winner of the 1991 Open at Royal Birkdale, Baker-Finch attributed his showing to a brief burst of anger after he stumbled to a triple-bogey in his first round. "I wasn't a happy camper after that 78 and I decided to come out today and hit every tee shot as hard as I could."

Senden, who shared the overnight lead on five under, overcame triple and double-bogeys to shoot a second-round 70 to lead by one from Australia's Jamie Taylor.

Steve Elkington shot to the top of the leaderboard in the Nissan Open at the scene of his greatest achievement in Pacific Palisades, California yesterday. Elkington, who won the PGA Championship at Riviera last August, shot a four-under-par 67 to share the lead with Craig Stadler and Robert Wrenn.