Golf: Lawrie the storm force

IT WAS a long, grey and wet day in Akron, Ohio, on Friday and only Payne Stewart should have been surprised that the chief beneficiary of the Aberdonian climate and extended working day was the Open Champion, Paul Lawrie. The man who Stewart has disparagingly described as "the champion that Carnoustie deserved" showed the determined qualities that won him that title by leading the NEC Invitational after a 35-hole day.

After a morning 67 and post-prandial 68, Lawrie shared the lead with Carlos Franco, the Paraguayan who is one of the biggest "overnight" successes that the US Tour has had in years. The discourteous Stewart is two shots further back. If there is a golfing god, he will surely arrange for the scores to mean Ol' Knickerbocker Glory will be paired with Lawrie today.

With most of the attention on Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia playing together for the first time in competition (and finishing tied, two off the lead), Lawrie and Franco quietly worked their way up the leaderboard at Firestone Country Club. For Lawrie it was a long haul. When the storms broke over this course on Thursday afternoon, he had played only his opening tee shot in the $5m World Golf Championship event before play was suspended by storms.

It was a similarly arduous day for Franco; but one somehow doubts he will see it like that. Raised in grinding poverty, he would not call a day among the trimmed lawns of the Firestone Country Club, however many holes one has to a hard day. Any resemblance to Lee Trevino that might suggest, does not, however, extend to his quotes. Speaking in English instead of through a translator, Franco said: "First time, twice winner ... now I say incredible. Every week, more better. No more chance for winning major, but I like this week - $1m prize for the winner."

But before he gets too excited, there is the small matter of overcoming the combined might of the two Ryder Cup sides and other worthies. Phil Mickelson, Hal Sutton and Nick Price were one stroke back at 136, and Woods and Garcia only another shot away.

The two sensations of world golf were paired together just two weeks after that thrilling finish in the PGA Championship. Woods, who finished off a 66 on Friday morning to lead after the first round, could not get anything going with his putter in a second-round 71. His only one-putt birdie came on No 17, after which he mockingly raised his arms to the sky, showing more emotion than he did after winning the PGA.

Garcia was in under the trees, behind the trees, everywhere but inside one of the trees. He still managed an even-par 70 and was tied with Woods at 3 under. But his compatriot the Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal, who set the course record in 1990 with a 61, found the torturous side of Firestone on Friday. After completing a 70 in the morning, he had two double bogeys and a triple bogey for an 80.

A discreet veil is also best drawn over some other European performances: Colin Montgomerie's second-round 75, Lee Westwood's 74-72 start, Van de Velde's opening 75 and Darren Clarke's five-over-par total.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Financial Controller

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opening has arisen ...

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager / Financial Services

£30000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established in 1999, a highly r...

Recruitment Genius: Medical & Economic Writer / Consultant

£23000 - £70000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity for a Me...

Jemma Gent: Year End Accountant

£250-£300 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Are you a qualified accountant with strong exp...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower