Sun, May 18, 2008 - Page 19 News List

Jonathan Byrd takes a three-shot lead in Georgia

AFP , DULUTH, GEORGIA

Jonathan Byrd fired a six-under 66 to take a three-shot lead after two rounds on Friday as the weather disrupted AT&T Classic got back on schedule.

Starting on the back nine, Byrd fired seven birdies en route to a 12-under total of 132 in the US$5.5 million tournament.

Byrd notched three birdies in a row from the third, before his only bogey of the day, at the par-five sixth.

The 2002 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year, Byrd was three in front of Ryan Palmer and Kenny Perry, who were part of a five-way tie for the lead after the first round, which was completed on Friday morning.

Byrd, 30, tied for ninth place here last year, and has one top-10 finish in 13 starts this year. His last PGA Tour victory came last July at the John Deere Classic.

Perry, who posted a 69, bogeyed the par-five fourth, but rebounded with birdies at six, nine, 11 and 16 to move to nine-under 135.

Perry is trying to bounce back after shooting 81 in the last round of the Players Championship last Sunday.

Palmer endured a rough start to the day. After parring his first four holes, Palmer double-bogeyed the par-four fifth hole. He also bogeyed the ninth, but eagled 10 to join Perry at nine-under.

Charles Howell (69), David Toms (69) and Parker McLachlin (70) were tied for fourth on eight-under 136.

Defending champion Zach Johnson carded a 70 for a share of 10th.

Johnson was cruising until a bogey at the sixth, the only blemish in a round that included three birdies and left him at five-under 139.

Last year, Johnson defeated Japan’s Ryuji Imada on the first hole of a playoff to add a second title in Georgia to his unexpected Masters triumph last year.

Johnson also won this event in 2004 and tied for second in 2006.

■ IRISH OPEN

AFP, ADARE MANOR, IRELAND

French rookie Michael Lorenzo-Vera opened up a one-shot lead after the second round of the Irish Open on Friday to confirm the promise he showed on the Challenge Tour last year.

The 23-year-old from Biarritz carded a second round two-under 70 to post the leading score of six-under 138.

That put him one shot clear of Germany’s Marcel Siem and two ahead of joint overnight leader Richard Green of Australia and Pablo Larrazabal of Spain. He is also three clear of a six-strong bunch of players, which includes Northern Ireland’s Darren Clarke. India’s Jeev Milkha Singh, who shared the first round lead, slumped to four-over for the round and now stands four shots off the pace.

Lorenzo-Vera won the Challenge Tour’s Apulia San Domenico Grand Final last season to win the Challenge Tour Rankings and he is hoping that he can make his breakthrough on the European Tour.

Clarke and Ireland’s Paul McGinley, who were Ryder Cup teammates for the past three matches, compiled a pair of three-under 69s to bring the second round to life and move to three-under and two-under respectively.

Meanwhile, Colin Montgomerie made yet another call for a clampdown on slow play. A three-under 69 lifted the 44-year-old Scot to level par, six behind Lorenzo-Vera. But it took nearly five hours to complete.

“Golf’s got too slow — that’s my bugbear in life,” Montgomerie said afterwards. “Five hours is an hour too long. There’s no reason why we can’t get round any course, anywhere in the world, in any conditions in four. The deterrents have got to be tougher — that works in any walk of life. If there is a serious one it’s amazing how quick it could be. I think we are all working together on it and it’s a matter of trying to get it all together and try to make it fair for everybody.”

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