Australia's O'Hern takes over Lancome lead

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The Independent Online

Australia's Nick O'Hern jumped into the lead after the second round of the dlrs 1.2 million Lancome Trophy here Friday as overnight leader Roger Wessels missed the cut.

Australia's Nick O'Hern jumped into the lead after the second round of the dlrs 1.2 million Lancome Trophy here Friday as overnight leader Roger Wessels missed the cut.

A two-under-par 69 over the sun-splashed, 6,903-yard Saint-Nom track gave the left-handed O'Hern a single-shot edge over Scotland's Dean Robertson, who had a 65, and Australian Brett Rumford, who shot 66.

He hit his 6-iron to 12 feet on the last and sank the birdie putt for a lead that lasted all afternoon.

"I've only been on Tour two years and I'm up there on a leaderboard with names like (Vijay) Singh and (Jose Maria) Olazabal," O'Hern said. "That last birdie was revenge for the double-bogey I made there yesterday. I feel I'm going to have a good weekend."

O'Hern's win last December at the Coolum Classic on Queensland's Gold Coast, a tournament on the Australasian Tour, was his biggest career victory. Overnight leader Wessels crashed out of the tournament, posting a ten-over-par 81 after a first-round 63. It was the first time a first-round leader missed the halfway cut since Rodney Pampling did the same in last year's British Open.

Last year's British Open champ, Paul Lawrie from Scotland, shot 68 to finish in a three-way tie in fourth slot with Argentina's Jose Coceres (66) and Denmark's Anders Hansen, who carded a 65. Top European players made a collective move up the leaderboard Friday, with Lee Westwood shooting a second successive 68 to tie seventh spot with Germany's Alexander Cejka (69) and Spain's Miguel Martin (72) at 136.

Westwood was tailed by a six-man group including Nick Faldo who had a 67, Olazabal who fired 72 and current European money-leader Darren Clarke who had a 70. Faldo, looking for a European renaissance and a possible twelfth Ryder Cup team-place, played beautifully controlled golf Friday to stand 6-under for the round and 7-under overall after 16 holes.

But the Englishman three-putted to bogey the 17th and drove into sand at the par-3 18th. He came out into another trap, then drained a fifteen-footer for bogey.

"Those two bogeys dampened what could have been a great day," Faldo said. "But I played really well. Every shot was a step towards what I've been working for. I want to pull my world ranking up, get into the big tournaments and the Ryder Cup."

Faldo has slipped to 107th in the world rankings. His last victory came at the 1997 Nissan Open on the PGA Tour. Current Masters champ Singh shot 72 to finish six shots off the pace at 139, and Scotland's Colin Montgomerie also shot 72 for 141.

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