Englishmen share third-round lead at Johnnie Walker

AP , PERTH, AUSTRALIA

Sun, Feb 22, 2009 - Page 18

England’s Ross McGowan and John Bickerton shared the third-round lead yesterday at the Johnnie Walker Classic on a day the second-round leaders would like to forget.

McGowan had a seven-­under-par 65 and Bickerton shot 66 to have 14-under totals of 202 on the Vines Resort composite course.

They have a two-shot cushion over four players — Raphael Jacquelin of France (66), Felipe Aguilar of Chile (68), Australia’s Terry Pilkadaris (68) and New Zealand amateur Danny Lee (69), winner of last year’s US Amateur title.

The players who started the day on the leaderboard tumbled badly in 40˚C temperatures.

The US’ Anthony Kim, two strokes out of the lead after Friday, had a 9 on the par-5 third and shot 75, moving from a tie for sixth to a tie for 46th. He was joined by second-round co-leader Anthony Kang of the US, who shot 77, putting the two Korean-Americans nine shots back.

Ireland’s Damien McGrane, tied with Kang after the second round, shot 72 yesterday and was tied for 12th in the tournament sanctioned by the European, Australasian PGA and Asian tours.

The 26-year-old McGowan is looking for his first European Tour win. His previous best result was fifth at the Alfred Dunhill Championship in 2007.

Camilo Villegas of Colombia and Greg Norman, in his first main, non-senior tournament since finishing third at last year’s British Open, both failed to make the cut and had the weekend off. Norman used the tournament to begin his preparation for this year’s US Masters.

■NORTHERN TRUST

AP, LOS ANGELES

With darkness rapidly descending, Scott McCarron shot a 3-under 68 for a two-shot lead over Steve Stricker and Tommy Armour III halfway through the Northern Trust Open on Friday.

“I usually do my best work at night,” McCarron quipped.

Phil Mickelson will need to do better on the weekend if he wants to successfully defend his title at Riviera Country Club. He was nine shots worse than his opening-round 63, but it was easy to see the upside after a 72 put him in the group only three behind.

“This is the first time I’m in contention heading into the weekend, and I’m excited about it,” Mickelson said.

■ACE GROUP CLASSIC

AP, NAPLES, FLORIDA

Vicente Fernandez and Don Pooley shot 4-under 68s to share the first-round lead in the ACE Group Classic, while Jay Haas finished a stroke back after a two-stroke penalty for hitting a piece of pine straw in a hazard on Friday.

Wayne Levi matched Haas with a 69 on the new TPC Treviso Bay, and Bernhard Langer, Loren Roberts, Gene Jones, Dan Forsman, Fulton Allem, Mike Goodes and Jim Chancey opened with 70s. Goodes won the Allianz Championship last Sunday for his first Champions Tour victory.

Chancey made it into the field as a Monday qualifier.

Curtis Strange (78), Hale Irwin (79), and defending champion Scott Hoch (80) were among those who struggled. Hoch is playing despite tendinitis and arthritis in his left wrist that forced him to skip the season-opener in Hawaii and withdraw last week from the Allianz Championship.