Els surprised at being back in swing

Only the forecast thunderstorms look capable of stopping Ernie Els claiming a third victory of the year after the world No 3 took command here at the Asian Open.

Only the forecast thunderstorms look capable of stopping Ernie Els claiming a third victory of the year after the world No 3 took command here at the Asian Open.

Els fired eight birdies and an eagle in a near-flawless second-round 62 for a 15-under-par total and a four-shot lead. New Zealand's Eddie Lee, one of seven players sharing the lead after the first round, added a 66 to his opening 67 to lie second on 11 under, with France's Raphael Jacquelin a shot further back after a second consecutive 67.

The Englishman Simon Wakefield, the Dane Thomas Bjorn and Jean Van de Velde, of France, are three shots further back on eight under. Luke Donald was 10 shots off the pace after a 69, Nick Faldo two under after a 70 and Colin Montgomerie one under after also going round in 70.

Although two shots better than the previous course record, Els' round will not count officially due to the preferred lies in operation this week. "I felt my game was coming around and I was bit more confident," said Els, who has been working on changes to his posture since a disappointing performance at the US Masters earlier this month. "From where I was in the first round last week, where I was still looking for a swing and the changes were feeling very uncomfortable, I've done a total about-turn.

"I'm a little surprised it has come around this quickly but I'm very happy."

Montgomerie was looking for another good finish in Shanghai to move back into the world's top 50, but almost missed the cut after a poor finish to his round.

After a perfect drive on the 16th his approach to the green rolled into the water which led to a double-bogey six. Montgomerie was lucky not to suffer a carbon copy on the 17th, this time his tee shot to the par three somehow stayed dry but left him with an awkward shot from the edge of the lake. He pitched to six feet and saved par to remain level par.

That was right on the cut mark but Montgomerie managed to extend his stay with a birdie four on the last, despite another bad drive into a fairway bunker.

ASIAN OPEN (Shanghai ) Leading second-round scores (GB or Irl unless stated): 129 E Els (SA) 67 62. 133 E Lee (NZ) 67 66. 134 R Jacquelin (Fr) 67 67. 136 S Wakefield 67 69, T Bjorn (Den) 71 65, J Van de Velde (Fr) 67 69, J Lucquin (Fr) 70 66. 137 J Milkha Singh (Ind) 69 68, P Lawrie 67 70. 138 R Sterne (SA) 69 69, P Sjoland (Swe) 70 68. 139 C Cevaer (Fr) 70 69, S Hansen (Den) 69 70, L Donald 70 69, W Ormsby (Aus) 72 67, L Austin (Aus) 67 72, D Park 70 69. 140 A Kang (US) 72 68, A Wall 71 69, E Loar (US) 72 68, C Rodiles (Sp) 69 71, K Ferrie 72 68.

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