Rose moves past Pike early at Masters
BY David Collinge | Australasian PGA Tour | 2006 MasterCard Masters | Round Two | 24 Nov 2006
Young Australian amateur Aaron Pike will have his work cut out later today if he is to remain in contention for the lead at the 2006 MasterCard Masters.
Already this morning, the rest of the field is challenging. Standing out has been Englishman Justin Rose, who at 6 under for the day has moved past Pike to claim outright lead for the tournament. After some wayward driving during his 69 yesterday, Rose has shown better consistency and style today to card a 66 – beyond what you might expect from someone ranked 213th on last year’s European Tour money list.
Also in contention at 4 under so far today (through 17) is Australian Nick O’Hern. Considered by many as unlucky not to emerge as champion in this event last year, O’Hern has shown before that he can take the Huntingdale course apart. Few will forget his blistering opening round 64 (equal course record) last year.
Sitting just behind are Australians Kurt Barnes and James Nitties. Both are at 4 under for the day and can readily convert that to more. Barnes birdied his first three holes this morning and looks ready to make a move in his second nine.
23-year-old New South Welshman Nitties has had a somewhat rocky road since turning professional. He was an outstanding amateur – one of the highlights being part of Australia’s victorious 2004 Eisenhower Trophy team. His campaign for a tour card in the US in 2005 was interrupted for many weeks by a serious hip infection, and he has struggled since then. Previously a runner up in an Australian PGA (to Peter Lonard), it would be great to see Nitties once again in the winners circle come Sunday.
Given the outstanding scoring so far, the cut after end of play today is likely to be low. Among those in danger of missing the magic figure are Stuart Appleby (for many the pre tournament favourite) and US visitor Kevin Stadler. They will need to put in blinders today to survive and both are capable of just that.
Overnight leader Pike (8 under) does not tee off until 2.00pm. Other challengers yet to tee off include Europeans Dougherty (-7) and Jacquelin (-6) and local stars Baddeley (-4), Lonard (-4) and defending champ Robert Allenby (-3). Victorian Peter Wilson steps out at 1.50pm in an attempt to reproduce the form that saw him shoot a best ever 65 yesterday. This afternoon promises to see some tenacious play from many.
Photo – Anthony Powter