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Campbell finishes with a flourish

New Zealand's Michael Campbell, fresh from a successful Tiger hunt in Taiwan, roared home to claim the halfway lead at the 640,000 US dollar Australian Open on Friday.

New Zealand's Michael Campbell, fresh from a successful Tiger hunt in Taiwan, roared home to claim the halfway lead at the 640,000 US dollar Australian Open on Friday.

Birdies at the final four holes helped Campbell turn a 4-shot deficit to playing partner Aaron Baddeley into a 1-shot lead over the Australian amateur.

Campbell had a 7-under 65 at Royal Sydney Golf Club to go to 10-under while Baddeley had a 4-under 68 to be alone in second at 9-under.

Three Australians are at 8-under - Brendan Jones, Nick O'Hern and overnight leader Paul Gow while the leading European players were Ireland's Paul McGinley and English youngster Anthony Wall who were both 7-under.

Campbell is one of a rare breed to win a tournament featuring Woods in the past few months as the American closed his year with 10 victories from 14 starts. He claimed the Johnnie Walker Classic a fortnight ago as Woods came sixth.

"It's been two weeks now and I'm still riding the crest of a wave," Campbell said. "I'm totally in control of my game at the moment."

Campbell, 30, was ranked No 2 on the Australasian tour in 1995 but then went into a free fall. He was 32nd the next year and in 1997 missed the cut in all six tournaments he entered.

Baddeley, who relieves tension on the golf course by singing songs between shots, led by two shots after 16 holes but a bogey at the par-3 17th cost him as Campbell continued his surge.

Baddeley, who considers himself a "45-handicapper as a singer" is just 18 and only completed his high school studies three weeks ago, wrapping them up in time to compete on the tour.

But he appears far from overawed by a field including major winners Nick Faldo and Greg Norman and Europe's top player Colin Montgomerie, or the weight of history.

Bruce Devlin, the last amateur to win an Australian Open, back in 1960 or 11 years before Baddeley was born, congratulated the youngster after Friday's round.

"I'm not surprised to be where I am," said Baddeley. "I came here to win the tournament."

Montgomerie got his putter work satisfactorily for the first time in four tournaments to stay in contention with a 67 after an opening round 72 to be five off the lead.

"I have a chance now," Montgomerie said. "Another even par round and I wouldn't have been. I'll be a way behind but if I can get a couple of 66s or something you never know."

Montgomerie has been upset with his work on the greens and changed his pre-round routine to concentrate solely on the putting green Friday.

He started with three straight birdies and admitted his round could have been even better in good morning conditions.

Norman had a rollercoaster ride to a 73 which leaves him at 1-under and nine shots adrift of Campbell.

England's Nick Faldo was also inconsistent, improving from his overnight 4-under to 7-under in four holes Friday before falling apart with four bogeys in the back nine. He was 2-under after two rounds and not in a hopeful mood.

"It doesn't feel great now after that," Faldo said. "The short game really let me down and I had three three putts."

Leading second-round scores and totals in the Australian Open at Royal Sydney, Australia (Aus unless stated, par 72):

134 M Campbell (Nzl) 69 65135 A Baddeley 67 68136 B Jones 66 70, N O'Hern 68 68, P Gow 64 72137 P McGinley (Irl) 67 70, A Wall (Eng) 69 68138 P O'Malley 71 67, M Long (Nzl) 70 68, J Moseley 66 72139 C Montgomerie (Sco) 72 67, P Lonard 73 66, G Chalmers 74 65, R Pampling 68 71, C Spence 69 70, G Ogilvy 70 69140 B Partridge 69 71, M Ecob 68 72141 D Howell (Eng) 69 72, S Gardiner 68 73, T Bjorn (Den) 71 70, G Dodd 74 67, C Hanson 75 66, A Stolz 70 71, L Parsons 69 72

Selected others:142 N Faldo (Eng) 68 74143 G Norman 70 73, D Tapping (Eng) 71 72, R Russell (Sco) 70 73144 J Van de Velde (Fra) 71 73145 S Webster (Eng) 73 72, R Johnson (USA) 73 72, T Dier (Ger) 71 74146 R Byrd (USA) 73 73, M Norgren (Swe) 74 72147 J-L Guepy (Fra) 73 74148 JJ West (USA) 75 73150 LW Chong (Chn) 75 75154 P Haugsrud (Nor) 79 75