Golf: James rejoices at fine start

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The Independent Online
MARK JAMES overcame 'nightmare' greens and windy conditions yesterday to convert a six-stroke deficit into a one-stroke lead at the half-way stage of the Madeira Island Open.

While the overnight leader, Jeff Hall, suffered a steep decline with a 77 - 12 strokes down on his opening effort - James compiled a 69, the best round of the day, to card 140, four under par and one ahead of Jamie Spence and Mark Davis.

Cupboard bare since winning the 1990 English Open, James aims make amends this season as he attempts to retain his Ryder Cup place. 'I'm delighted to have opened so well,' he said. Resuming on one-under, James immediately struck an eight-iron to two feet and then two-putted the long second. He did three-putt the fourth but holed an eight-footer on the 10th and again reached another par five, the 12th, in two before taking two putts for a fourth birdie.

After eight birdies in his first-day 65, Hall was unable to manage one yesterday and now finds himself joint fourth, two off the pace. Spence matched James but came off disappointed after three-putting his last green.

The 29-year-old Spence currently lies seventh in the Ryder Cup points table and would climb to second by collecting the pounds 41,660 top prize. 'I've spent the last month drinking wine, going racing and watching old videos of Arsenal games,' he said. 'I went to see them a couple of times, but that really depressed me.'

MADEIRA ISLAND OPEN (Madeira) Leading second round scores (GB or Irl unless stated): 140 M James 71 69. 141 J Spence 72 69; M Davis 70 71. 142 S Ames (Trin) 70 72; C Hardin (Swe) 73 69; J Hall 65 77; A Binaghi (It) 72 70; J Payne 71 71; R Chapman 67 75. 143 G J Brand 71 72; R Willison 73 70; P Broadhurst 72 71; A Hunter 70 73. 144 D W Basson (SA) 73 71; P Mitchell 71 73; R Boxall 72 72; J Robinson 74 70; C Mason 72 72; G Brand jnr 69 75; J McHenry 72 72; D Williams 72 72; G Orr 73 71; S Richardson 71 73; D Smyth 70 74; M Gates 72 72; P Hall 72 72; R Lee 74 70; O Eskildsen (Den) 68 76. 145 A Sherborne 74 71; E Giraud (Fr) 73 72; O Karlsson (Swe) 73 72. 146 J Coe 72 74; D Gilford 73 73; G Ralph 72 74; S McAllister 74 72; N Godin 69 77; R Rafferty 73 73; A Hare 76 70. 147 R Berhorst (Ger) 73 74; D Ray 74 73; P McGinley 70 77; M Krantz (Swe) 72 75; S Torrance 70 77; D R Jones 71 76; Daniel Silva (Por) 75 72; T Charnley 71 76; D Curry 73 74; I Garbutt 73 74.

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