Morrison leads at Singapore Open
11 Nov 2011 - 12:16:53
Scrabble-loving Englishman James Morrison extended his surprise lead over a field packed with major-winners in the Barclays Singapore Open's rain-curtailed second round on Friday.
The unheralded 26-year-old from Weybridge was standing on the 15th fairway when thunderclaps and heavy rain forced a three-hour delay, but he returned to complete a three-under-par round of 68, including a peach of a birdie on 18.
Morrison held the clubhouse lead on 12-under-par 130 as a who's who of golf jostled to survive the cut in the second round, which will be completed early on Saturday after darkness ended play at around 7:00 pm (1100 GMT).
Four-time major-winner Phil Mickelson was one shot below the projected cut of three-under-par with six holes left to play, while Irish star Padraig Harrington and Colombia's Camilo Villegas were both four strokes from safety.
Ernie Els carded a five-under-par 66 to lie four-under overall, while 2009 US Open champion Graeme McDowell survived a bout of stomach cramps to limp round in level-par 71, putting him on three-under for the first two days.
"I felt very lethargic this morning and played the front nine like a blind man," McDowell said.
"Then on our way to the 10th tee the hooter went for the storm, and that has probably saved me and kept me in this golf tournament, because it enabled me to get back to the clubhouse, get some fluids in me and get some rest."
But the twin par-71 courses also saw some dazzling play as 2010 British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen stormed to eight-under 63 for a share of 12th, and England's Justin Rose hoisted himself to joint eighth with a six-under round.
Joint overnight leader Edoardo Molinari was one shot off Morrison's pace and Filipino Juvic Pagunsan and Spain's Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano shared fourth. Asia's only major-winner Y.E. Yang was joint fifth with six holes to play.
But Morrison, a sufferer of the debilitating Crohn's disease which forces him to constantly monitor his diet, was comfortable leading the illustrious field despite only joining the European Tour last year.
At the par-five 18th, he sizzled a 100-yard sand wedge to within three feet to complete a satisfying 48 hours after his first round of 62.
"It was absolutely perfect, looked like it was going to go in. But I'll take the four," Morrison said of the wedge shot, adding that he passed time during the long rain delay by playing a high-tech version of Scrabble.
"I sat and played 'Words for Friends' on my iPhone," he said. "I had a little look (at the leaderboard) and then back to my iPhone.
"When we got back out it was absolutely roasting. Standing on that fairway waiting to go it felt like it was about 50 degrees (122 Fahrenheit)."
Several players fell victim to temperatures of up to 32 degrees and high humidity with Thailand's Thammanoon Sriroj, Prom Meesawat and Pariya Junhasavasdikul all forced out mid-round with heat-related problems.
Meanwhile the 33-year-old Pagunsan admitted he was amazed to be besting the star-studded field as he bids to add to his lone Asian Tour victory claimed in 2007.
"I'm just hanging in there," said Pagunsan, who has been working on his fitness by jogging and playing basketball.
"If you have physical fitness, your mental game grows stronger because you don't need to worry about getting tired."
Sixty-nine of the field are still yet to complete their second round, with play due to re-start at 7:30 am on Saturday.