Golf: Rocca rolls into lead

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The Independent Online
COSTANTINO ROCCA, who captured his first European title a fortnight ago, clearly enjoyed the taste of success. Two closing birdies on the Castelgandolfo course in his native Italy yesterday gave him the half-way lead in the Rome Masters.

Playing in the shadow of the Pope's summer palace, Rocca fired a second successive 68 for an eight-under-par total of 136. Those impressive rounds earned the Lyons Open champion a one-stroke lead over another player angling for a Ryder Cup debut in September, Jamie Spence. He added a 70 to his opening 67.

Rocca, who is 29 under par for his last six competitive rounds, sank putts of 10 feet and six feet at the last two holes to overtake Spence, who had led by three strokes at one stage. He is on course to become the first Italian to win on home soil since Massimo Manelli took the Italian Open in Rome 13 years ago.

Spence reached the turn in 33 to move to the head of the field but struggled home in 37, two strokes clear of the Scot, Adam Hunter, who just managed to retain his Tour card last season. He closed with three birdies in the last four holes to add a 71 to his opening 68.

The European comeback of Peter Oosterhuis fizzled out after two rounds. The 44-year-old improved by two strokes on his first round 76 but his total of 150 was three shots outside the cut.

'I enjoyed the experience and I hope to get an extended opportunity to play more events in Europe,' he said.

ROME MASTERS (Castelgandolfo): Leading second- round scores (GB or Irl unless stated): 136 C Rocca (It) 68 68. 137 J Spence 67 70. 139 A Hunter 68 71. 140 D Hospital (Sp) 71 69; G J Brand 71 69; G Turner (NZ) 72 68; B Lane 69 71. 141 D A Russell 72 69; D Smyth 74 67; A Binaghi (It) 70 71; E Canonica (It) 72 69; J Robinson 70 71; F Nobilo (NZ) 68 73; J Townsend (US) 68 73. 142 G Cali (It) 70 72; P Curry 74 68; G Ralph 73 69; J Payne 70 72; M Besanceney (Fr) 69 73; J van de Velde (Fr) 66 76. 143 S McAllister 71 72; P Quirici (Swit) 72 71; M James 72 71; P Baker 71 72; U Zilg (Ger) 76 67; M Gates 72 71; P Way 72 71; H P Thul (Ger) 71 72; F Lindgren (Swe) 74 69. 144 S Bennett 72 72; H Selby-Green 72 72; M Lanner (Swe) 74 70; C Mason 73 71; M McLean 72 72; S Grappasonni (It) 69 75. 145 P Mayo 73 72; P Eales 72 73; H Clark 71 74; A Mednick (Swe) 73 72; G Orr 73 72; R Winchester 75 70; J Sewell 70 75; P Fowler (Aus) 71 74; S Torrance 73 72; G Brand Jnr 72 73; J McHenry 74 71. 146 D Basson (SA) 75 71; J Carriles (Arg) 76 70; J Hall 74 72; P Lawrie 72 74; C Raulerson (US) 74 72; D Gilford 73 73; I Garbutt 75 71; S Luna (Sp) 75 71; L Vannet 75 71; D Williams 71 75; A Lebouc (Fr) 69 77; W Riley (Aus) 71 75; S Struver (Ger) 70 76; L Jones 71 75. Selected non-qualifiers: 149 J M Canizares (Sp) 74 75. 150 P Oosterhuis 76 74.

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