Lawrie in the mood to match Woods

The former Open champion Paul Lawrie insisted yesterday he could stay on Tiger Woods' tail at the Johnnie Walker Classic here.

The former Open champion Paul Lawrie insisted yesterday he could stay on Tiger Woods' tail at the Johnnie Walker Classic here.

Woods went to the top of the leaderboard by adding a superb 65 to his opening 68 for an 11-under-par halfway total of 133. The Australian Rodney Pampling was a shot behind in second after a 66, with compatriots Geoff Ogilvy and Wayne Smith a further stroke back.

Lawrie was three shots off the lead alongside another Australian, Paul Gow, after dropping a shot at the last hole in his 69 but refused to be intimidated by the sight of the world No 1 again at the head of affairs.

"You know Tiger is going to play well so you have to play even better," said the 31-year-old Scot, without a tournament win since last year's triumph at Carnoustie. "But there is no intimidation factor. You can't change what he is doing so you have to play your own game.

"He is the best player in the world by a long way and I have great respect for what he is doing. I wish I could do it, to win at the drop of a hat must be fantastic. But I think if I can play well I can beat him, there is no reason why not.

"I played well yesterday and equally good if not better today. Being four under after six holes, you have the course at your mercy, so to finish three under was pretty poor. I gave myself a lot of chances on the back nine but could not make a putt and at the last got a flier from the rough and went over the back. All week it has gone nowhere from the rough but it came out like a bullet."

It was ironic that Pampling surpassed Lawrie at the Alpine Golf and Sports Club with the Australian's previous claim to fame inexorably linked to Lawrie's greatest triumph.

The 31-year-old from Brisbane has the unwanted record of being the only first-round leader to miss the halfway cut in an Open championship, rounds of 71 and 86 at Carnoustie adding up to three shots too many.

The best rounds of the day again came from the morning starters, who enjoyed the best of the conditions, with Swede Jesper Parnevik matching Woods' 65 and the round of the day coming from his Ryder Cup partner Sergio Garcia, who added a 64 to his opening 74. Woods carded eight birdies and just one bogey, coming home in 31 to put himself in pole position for a 10th win this year.

Nick Faldo looked anything but fresh as he trudged off after a second-round 73 that left him on level par, 11 off the pace, while the Ryder Cup captain, Sam Torrance, missed the cut on three over.

Faldo is playing in this event without a sponsor following a row with his main backer. Faldo endorses clubs made by Adams Golf Ltd but the company has claimed that he has not been using them this season. Faldo has responded by arguing that the company, which has stopped paying him after accusing him of breach of contract, had failed to design specific equipment for him.

Faldo teed-up in Bangkok with a plain golf bag containing Mizuno irons while his driver and fairway woods were hidden under plain black head-covers.

JOHNNIE WALKER CLASSIC (Bangkok, Thailand), Leading scores after two rounds (GB or Ireland unless stated): 133 T Woods (US) 68 65. 134 R Pampling (Aus) 68 66. 135 G Ogilvy 68 67 (Aus), W Smith (Aus) 65 70. 136 P Gow (Aus) 66 70, P Lawrie 67 69. 137 J Parnevik (Swe) 72 65. 138 M Campbell (NZ) 71 67, K Druce (Aus) 70 68, S Garcia (Sp) 74 64.

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