The US duo of Boo Weekley and Heath Slocum held onto a one-stroke lead in the World Cup of Golf, shooting a three-under 69 in Friday's second round to lead England and Scotland.
England's Justin Rose and Ian Poulter, and Colin Montgomerie and Marc Warren of Scotland both shot 68 to trail by a shot on 13-under 131. The South African team of Trevor Immelman and Retief Goosen were a further shot back after a 69. Three teams were three behind -- Denmark (68), Italy (68) and Germany (71).
After a low-scoring day on Thursday in the easier fourballs (better ball) format, scores soared in the foursomes (alternate-shot) at the Mission Hills Golf Club. Though this is a stroke-play event, match play rules are in force.
"This is a hard format [foursomes] to play, to keep a rhythm," said Slocum, who teamed with Weekley for a 61 on Thursday. "We started the day ahead and we finished the day ahead."
"We played solid today under the conditions. We weren't hitting it our best and sure not putting it our best," Weekley said.
Weekley and Slocum are surprise leaders. Weekley got the invitation to play only after 13 other US players ranked ahead of him declined. He picked Slocum, his high-school friend from the Florida Panhandle, as his partner.
If they win, the prize for each is US$800,000 out of the US$5 million purse.
England had a chance to at least share the lead, but stumbled to their only bogey on the par-three 17th. Poulter ran a 20-foot putt for birdie 7 feet past the hole and Rose missed to save par.
Poulter and Rose were the pre-tournament favorites -- the only players in the field ranked in the top 20. Rose is No. 8 and Poulter is No. 20.
Scotland pulled within a shot on 18 when Montgomerie dropped a 5-foot birdie putt following Warren's long approach to the green. It was also Montgomerie who helped save par on 17 when his 60-foot chip landed just inches away for Warren to tap in.
South Africa went to 13-under on 17, capitalizing on Goosen's 20-foot birdie putt. But his tee shot on 18 found deep rough, leading to a bogey on the closing hole.
■ AUSTRALIAN MASTERS
Robert Allenby bogeyed his final hole but maintained a one-stroke lead in the Australian Masters with a four-under 68 in yesterday's second round.
Allenby, who led by a stroke after the opening round, has a 36-hole total of nine-under 135.
Fellow Australian Aaron Baddeley had the low round of the day -- a 66 -- to move into second place at eight-under. Five golfers are four shots behind Allenby and tied for third, including 18-year-old Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, who shot a 69 yesterday after an opening 70.
Australians Terri Pilkadaris (68), Rick Kulacz (69) and Scott Strange (69), plus Swede Daniel Chopra (70) were tied with McIlroy, the low amateur at this year's British Open who turned professional in September.
Allenby took a two-stroke lead with a birdie on the 17th, but gave the shot back on the 18th after an errant tee shot.
Baddeley's round included eight birdies and two bogeys. He capped it with a near-perfect wedge on the par-four ninth, his final hole, which finished inches from the hole and was tapped in for birdie.
■ CASIO OPEN
South Korea's I.J. Chang fired a bogey-free five-under 67 to take a one stroke lead over Japan's Taichi Teshima after the second round of the Casio Open yesterday.