Curtis shakes off poor start to share lead at Bay Hill

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The Independent Online

Ben Curtis fired a second-round five-under-par 67 to move into a four-way share of the lead at the halfway stage in the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill in Florida yesterday. Curtis, the 2003 Open champion, recovered well after starting his round with two bogeys, hitting five birdies in seven holes between 10 and 16 to sit on seven under for the tournament.

He was joined by fellow Americans DJ Trahan and Davis Love III and South Africa's Ernie Els. Trahan shot a 68, Els a 69 and Love III a 71. Three birdies in the opening five holes set Trahan on his way, while Els, having been two over for his round after seven, birdied six of the last 11, including 17 and 18, to get right back in the hunt. Love III had perhaps the most bizarre round of the day with seven birdies, including three in a row at 15, 16 and 17, and six bogeys. Two more Americans, Kevin Na and Phil Mickelson, and South Africa's Retief Goosen were a shot further back.

Colin Montgomerie fired a 71 to sit one under overall, but England's Justin Rose missed the cut. He could only manage a 73 to go with his opening-round 75 to lie four over and will now need to win next week's Houston Open to stay on course for a Masters place.

At the Andalusian Open in Malaga

Sam Hutsby took a giant step forward in his European Tour career yesterday with a brilliant seven-under-par 63. The 21-year-old from Hampshire, ranked a lowly 491st in the world, shares the halfway lead on 10-under with South African Louis Oosthuizen, runner-up to Welshman Rhys Davies in Morocco last Sunday.

Hutsby could easily have been preparing for the Masters rather than playing in Spain this week. He reached the final of the British Amateur last June before losing to 16-year-old Italian Matteo Manassero, who in two weeks' time will become the youngest player to appear at Augusta.

Hutsby would have had to stay amateur to take up that opportunity if he had won that day, but instead he turned professional after the Walker Cup in September and finished second at the Tour's qualifying school only two months later.

Hutsby said: "I woke up quite a few times in the night, have a sore throat and am really bunged up, but that round has made me feel better."

It matched the new Parador course record set earlier in the day by fellow Tour rookie James Morrison – his effort contained a mere 19 putts – but less than an hour later Paul Waring, another of the English contingent, lowered the mark by one.