McDowell takes lead as rain proves pain in Italy

Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell moved into a one-shot lead before yet more bad weather disrupted the Italian Open in Milan yesterday.

Heavy rain and thunderstorms had already reduced the tournament to 54 holes, and another storm in the afternoon meant that, despite a late resumption yesterday evening, the players would return to finish today.

McDowell had picked up four birdies in his first eight holes to move to 16 under par when play was suspended. The 24-year-old from Portrush in Ulster was one shot ahead of second-round leader Angel Cabrera and the French duo Thomas Levet and Gregory Havret.

Cabrera was unusually subdued in carding just one birdie in eight holes to reach 15 under, while Havret eagled the ninth and birdied the 10th before the delay. Levet also birdied the ninth before the downpour, which included a hailstorm.

In the United States, the American Danny Ellis held on to his lead as the second round of the weather-disrupted New Orleans Classic was finally completed yesterday.

Ellis, on 15 under par, led his compatriot Charles Howell III by one shot at the English Turn Golf and Country Club. The Masters champion, Phil Mickelson, Matt Kuchar, Paul Azinger, Craig Bowden, Ken Duke and Ryan Palmer were all three shots behind in third.

Another tournament that did play to a finish yesterday was the China Masters in Beijing. Rahil Gangjee of India won a play-off against South Korea's Mo Joong-kyung.

Gangjee and Mo both shot a 15- under par 273, before the Indian parredthe extra 18th hole to take the sudden-death playoff at the Pine Valley Golf Club.

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