Faldo has not played for six weeks and while he would probably have got away with it on most courses, the Blue Canyon Golf and Country Club represents a severe test. The leaderboard, and the scores, reflected this. Bernhard Langer and Fred Couples are the joint leaders at the half-way stage on six under par. They lead by one from Hsieh Chin-sheng, of Taiwan, and by two from Ian Woosnam, David Feherty and Ronan Rafferty.
Faldo shot 76 and at five over par he missed the cut by one stroke. The leading 65 and ties survived to today's third round. When he arrived here Faldo admitted that he was dissatisfied with his swing and it cost him dear on the fifth hole where he drove into the left rough. With his second shot, a five-iron, he hit a palm tree 90 yards in front of him and never saw the ball again. He took a double-bogey six.
If his driving was unsafe, his putting was unsure. He three-putted the eighth, the 10th and the 13th. At the ninth he missed from four feet. This is only the second time Faldo has missed a cut in three years.
The form on such occasions is to jump into a courtesy car and head for the airport and home but Faldo has to sweat it out here. He is among a select group of players who have been invited to play in a private tournament in Brunei next week. The Sultan, the world's richest man, is picking up the tab. It explains why Nick Price, who withdrew from this championship because of tendinitis, has not returned home. Faldo, who would have been paid appearance money, had an upsetting experience on the first tee in the pro-am when a spectator ran towards him with the intention of taking a photograph but fell and broke a leg.
Any sub-par score around Blue Canyon is a cause for celebration and Woods, the 18-year-old from Orange County in California, achieved it with a round of 71. At one over par for the tournament he made the cut by four strokes. In three previous appearances in professional events he had not survived beyond the second round.
Langer, who was paired with Woods, shot 70 but described it as a 'very frustrating day'. He is striking the ball well enough but is having trouble reading the greens. 'It's unexplainable to me,' he said. 'I should be four or five shots in the lead.'
He had a remarkable birdie on the 586-yard 15th hole which is unreachable in two to all but the longest hitters. Langer deliberately aimed his three-wood approach shot to land on a concrete road. The target is eight feet wide and from 228 yards he hit the road and his ball, given extra impetus, finished on the fringe of the green.
On the same hole Woosnam hit driver, driver and was just short of the green. Woosnam maintained his progress although the greens have got him worried. At the third he missed a putt from 14 inches. 'There were a few little twitches,' he said. 'I think my main battle will be with the putter.'
Local girls caddie at Blue Canyon and Feherty has employed one of them for the week. Yesterday she used a toothbrush to clean the faces of his clubs. Feherty, who preferred a reunion with his old friend Sam Torrance to playing a practice round here, began with three birdies but had a bogey five at the fifth. 'If you hit the green there you're in trouble,' he said, referring to a
severe slope. 'I hit the green and I was in trouble. You need a rope there to keep the threeball together.'
Couples, who had a level-par 72, came to grief at the treacherous 14th, a downhill par three with an island green. He found the water and took a double-bogey five. Colin Montgomerie, who also had a 72, shanked a six-iron into the lake at the same hole. 'It's the worst shot I've ever hit,' he said.
Hsieh, who is 31 today, had a 69 that included five birdies. The winner of the Taiwan PGA Championship for the past two years, Hsieh won his card on the Japanese Tour in December. 'I have a good feeling about this season,' he said.
Scores, Sporting Digest, page 35
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