Golf: Seve slumps but Olazabal survives

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The Independent Online
It is always distracting, when you are battling to make the cut yourself, to be playing with someone who cannot find the mown parts of the golf course.

At least, in Jose Maria Olazabal, Seve Ballesteros had someone who is sympathetic to his plight and confident in his own abilities to survive the half-way axe in the Murphy's Irish Open.

While Ballesteros slumped, without having to face the bowling of Shane Warne, to an outward half of 41 and eventually finished at 11 over, his countryman found three birdies on the back nine just when he needed them.

Olazabal faced missing the cut for the first time since his return to the tour in February when he double-bogeyed the par-five fifth. His drive ended in a bush and he was forced to take a penalty drop, but the story of his problems for two days here concerns more his lack of fortune on the greens. After a birdie-four at the 11th, the Basque finally holed a couple of 12-15 footers at the next two holes to qualify for the weekend at three over.

He was not the only star to struggle. Bernhard Langer crashed to eight over, while Nick Faldo was four over for the day before back-to-back birdies at the 15th and 16th brought him back to level par. Sweden's Michael Jonzon made a sizeable advance with a new course record of 64, one better than Lee Westwood's effort of the day before, which included five birdies in a row.

Westwood maintained his lead with a 69, but in common with the others on the leaderboard overnight he did not find life easy until he birdied four of the last eight holes. Thomas Bjorn, at six under with Jonzon, was two back after a 70, the same score as Colin Montgomerie, who is four adrift.

The testing nature of this Druid's Glen course has seen only a handful of players finish under par for two rounds and Costantino Rocca was not one of them. The Italian double-bogeyed the 18th for the second day running when his approach shot hit a tree 20 yards ahead of him and rebounded into the pond in front of the green.

Rocca then hurled his club into the tree, from which he needed his driver to extract it. "It was a four-iron," said his Irish caddie, "which then became a tree-iron."

Scores, Digest, page 28

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