Woosnam hits old form to share four-way lead

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After four missed cuts in a row in Bangkok, Melbourne, Sydney and Dubai, the 46-year-old Ian Woosnam shares the halfway lead at the Qatar Masters here.

The globe-trotting Woosnam, whose last strokeplay victory was seven years ago, came home in a four-under-par 32 to join Scotland's Andrew Oldcorn, the Irishman Gary Murphy, Japan's Nobuhito Sato and the Frenchman Gregory Havret on the six-under mark of 138.

Only five strokes separate the five pacesetters from those who made it on the cut mark - a European tour record.

The world No 1 for almost a full year after he won the Masters in 1991, the Welshman now stands 211th in the rankings. But it was only last Sunday, of course, that 201st-placed Mark O'Meara, now 47, ended six years without a tour win at the Desert Classic.

"I'm struggling to get to the par fives in two, but last week and this you haven't had to hit it long to do well," Woosnam said. He has reverted to a long putter this week and added: "It's made a big difference. I've had enough with the little one - it's depressing."

While the pre-tournament favourite, Paul McGinley, the runner-up to O'Meara, failed to qualify, Woosnam rolled in putts of 10 and seven feet at the 11th and 14th, drove the green on the 306-yard 16th and then pitched to six feet on the last for his second successive 69.

"I was thinking about the cut going down the 10th, but you've only got to hit a little bit of confidence and form, and it can change so quickly," he said. "I'm still not over-confident, but hopefully my game will improve as it goes on."

Oldcorn, 44 at the end of this month, is playing only his second event of the year, but used his winter break to dedicate himself to the game again. The Edinburgh-based player admits he lost motivation after his dream victory in the 2001 Volvo PGA Championship at Wentworth. "I was very disappointed I didn't make the Ryder Cup and then couldn't play for five months after hurting my back," he said. "But I think I relaxed - no doubt about it."

Qatar Masters (Doha) Leading second-round scores (GB or Irl unless stated): 138 G Havret (Fr) 70 68; G Murphy 71 67; A Oldcorn 68 70; N Sato (Japan) 68 70; I Woosnam 69 69. 139 E Canonica (It) 72 67; B Davis 69 70; K Ferrie 72 67; D Fichardt (SA) 70 69; P Fulke (Swe) 68 71; J Haeggman (Swe) 75 64; P Hedblom (Swe) 70 69; M A Jimenez (Sp) 71 68; M Jonzon (Swe) 70 69; J M Lara (Sp) 72 67; P Marantz (Aus) 72 67; R McEvoy 72 67; S O'Hara 69 70; M Wiegele (Aut) 68 71. 140 M Fraser (Aus) 73 67; A Hansen (Den) 72 68; D Howell 71 69; R Jacquelin (Fr) 73 67; J Lomas 76 64; S Lyle 72 68; M Maritz (SA) 73 67; J Moseley (Aus) 73 67; P Price 74 66; J-F Remesy (Fr) 71 69; M Roe 73 67.