Golf: Turner keeps the heat turned on

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The Independent Online
Greg Turner went snugly about his business, replete in his thermals and long johns, to maintain his lead in the Benson and Hedges International with a second-round 68. The New Zealander leads a pack of players who represent the transitional nature of the European Tour.

At nine under, Turner, who holed a testing four-footer for par at the last during a flash rainstorm, is one ahead of Bernhard Langer, who continued his impressive play in winning the Italian Open with a 66, the South African Retief Goosen and Ross McFarlane.

Two strokes back is Darren Clarke, the 28-year-old Irishman, who could have been even better but for bogeys at the last two holes. Much the same could be said of a short career which has seen two victories but promised more. He has been caught up by the likes of Lee Westwood, who shares the same manager and coach and who is among those on six under with his playing partner, Ian Woosnam.

Woosnam is seriously thinking about following Langer's lead in turning to the long putter. The details of his 68 were swiftly summarised: a putt from 10 feet for an eagle at the 11th, a two-putt birdie at the par-five seventh and a six-footer for another birdie at 13. He missed four other birdie chances from inside 10 feet but, despite his lack of confidence on the greens, the Welshman has not dropped a shot in two days.

"A 68 was the worst I could do today," Woosnam said. "It's getting frustrating." While he contemplates a move to lengthen his putter, going back to an old driver of 43 and a half inches has helped his long game. "I can't handle the long ones," said the short man of golf.

The game has moved on, however, and Woosnam was consistently beaten off the tee by Westwood by 40 yards. Westwood may not be in the Tiger Woods league - no one is - but he can unleash a 360-yard drive.

"He was hitting it miles past me," Woosnam said. "He's got the length, he's a good putter, all his game's good at the moment. If he keeps playing like that he's going to be a star. Well, he is a star."

The 24-year-old from Worksop has won in Sweden, Japan and Malaysia in the last nine months, as well as finishing 24th in his debut at the US Masters. "I haven't played with Lee for 18 months and he's improved a lot. He has got a bit of confidence, he's young, playing well, he's making money, what worries would he have?"

Actually, like Woosnam, Westwood would like to have holed a few more putts rather than recording two rounds of 69. "I should be 14 or 15 under," he said. "I have putted like a chump." Yet Westwood clearly has something about him, above the solid foundations set in place by his coach, Peter Cowen. "It's always nice when your fellow professionals say you're playing well," Westwood said. "Their word means more than anyone else because they've been there."

Westwood and Clarke are 11th and fifth in the Ryder Cup standings and are two young players that Seve Ballesteros would like to see in his team at Valderrama. That conditions were improved - there were moments when the wind almost died away and the sun was glimpsed briefly - could be seen from the scoring. Eduardo Romero beat the course record by two with his 65, and Ballesteros did not drop a shot in his 69.

This is the first time the Spaniard has achieved the feat in 1997 and means he has made the cut for the second tournament in a row.

BENSON AND HEDGES INTERNATIONAL OPEN (THAME) Early second round scores (GB or Irl unless stated): 135 G Turner (NZ) 67 68. 136 B Langer (Ger) 70 66; R Goosen (SA) 69 67; R McFarlane 70 66. 137 D Clarke 69 68. 138 L Westwood 69 69; I Woosnam 70 68; E Romero (Arg) 73 65. 140 S Luna (Sp) 70 70; P Mitchell 69 71. 141 C Montgomerie 70 71; I Garrido (Sp) 71 70; T Bjorn (Den) 71 70; B May (US) 69 72; C Suneson (Sp) 71 71; J Lomas 69 72. 142 P Quirici (Swit) 71 71; J Haeggman (Swe) 72 70; N Fasth (Swe) 70 72. 143 P McGinley 72 71; D Gilford 71 72; M James 73 70. 144 S Ames (Trin) 74 70, S Cage 74 70; S Torrance 74 70; R Green (Aus) 75 69; A Oldcorn 75 69; S Allan (Aus) 72 72; R Davis (Aus) 73 71; M Jonzon (Swe) 74 70; D Lee 73 71; S Field 75 69. 145 S Richardson 73 72; B Lane 74 71; F Jacobson (Swe) 75 70. 146 D Cole (Aus) 73 73; C Whitelaw (SA) 75 71; M McNulty (Zimb) 73 73; A Forsbrand (Swe) 73 73; (x) C Duke 77 69; P Haugsrud (Nor) 75 71. 147 D Hospital (Sp) 77 70; M A Martin (Sp) 72 75; H Clark 75 72; M Roe 78 69; R Rafferty 72 75; P Price 72 75; R Boxall 71 76, R Muntz (Hol) 72 74; J Pinero (Sp) 75 72; S Scahill (NZ) 75 71. 148 A Cabrera (Arg) 76 72; M Campbell (NZ) 75 73; D Chopra (Swe) 73 75. 149 C Watts 82 67; R Claydon 77 72; K Eriksson (Swe) 72 77; R Wessels (SA) 74 75; P Sefton 75 74, J Robson 72 77. 150 P Lonard (Aus) 75 75; P Curry 77 73, M Tunnicliff 75 75, M Mackenzie 76 74; R Lee 76 74. 151 B Longmuir 75 76. 152 R Russell 74 78; P Way 75 77; S Grappasonni (It) 75 77; G Evans 80 72. 153 A Mednick (Swe) 79 74. Withdrew: A Sherborne.

n Jack Nicklaus indicated yesterday that he will not compete in the Open Championship at Troon in July. He will make a decision after the US Open next month. "I have entered but I am not sure about playing, probably not," he said. "My game is not in very good shape and unless I do well in the US Open I probably won't be coming."