Morrison edges ahead in Singapore

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England’s James Morrison put himself in pole position at the weather-affected Barclays Singapore Open on Friday.

England’s James Morrison put himself in prime position for the biggest payday of his career by taking the second round clubhouse lead at the weather-hit US$6 million Barclays Singapore Open on Friday.

The 26-year-old produced a barnstorming back nine 31 at the Sentosa Golf Club’s Serapong course for a three-under-par 68 to lead by two shots from sweet-swinging Filipino Juvic Pagunsan, who produced an impressive 66 also at the Serapong.

A lightning storm forced the suspension of play for two hours and 45 minutes, leaving 69 players having to return on Saturday morning (7.30am) to complete their second rounds in Asia’s richest national Open.

Italian Ryder Cup star Edoardo Molinari was on 11-under, one back of Morrison, through 10 holes of his second round, while Korea’s Y.E. Yang was nine-under through 12 holes when play was stopped at 6.41pm due to fading light.

The tournament’s top draws, Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland, battling a stomach bug, shot a 71 to trail by nine shots while American world number 11 and four-time Major winner Phil Mickelson, who was announced on Thursday night that he will be inducted into the 2012 World Golf Hall of Fame, was two-under for the tournament through 12 holes.

A decision to ditch cricket for professional golf may prove to be a wise choice for Morrison as he kept his sights firmly on the US$1 million top prize for this week’s Barclays Singapore Open champion.

He has won once in Europe but success has been hard to come by this season with only two top-10s to his name. Still, the young Englishman is not afraid to lead from the front despite a near miss at the French Open in July where he led for three rounds before finishing seventh.

“I enjoy it. You play to win and to contend and to be interviewed and everything that comes with it and if you don’t enjoy all of that, then there is no point in playing. It’s what I love doing and I am looking forward to the weekend,” said Morrison, who represented the England cricket youth team before switching his attention to golf.

“I didn’t play as well today as I did yesterday but I managed to get it round and I am pretty happy with that, especially with a four under back nine to finish strongly.

“I led the French Open for three days which I think is probably on a par with this field. You don’t have Mickelson and (Camilo) Villegas there but there were a lot of world class players in that field and it was a massive learning curve for me.”

Like Morrison, Pagunsan has one win under his belt and hit into form with a top-10 in Taipei last week. He credited playing basketball for improving his fitness in his recent resurgence.

“Very happy, tough course here,” said Pagunsan, whose lone victory on the Asian Tour was recorded in 2007.

The soft-spoken Pagunsan was happy to be in the title frame but knows the finish line is still a long way away.

“Yeah. Really good. I just hung in there,” added the 33-year-old. “I think my mental (game) is getting stronger. I’m doing a bit of fitness training and playing some basketball with friends. Maybe one of the reasons is if you have physical fitness, your mental game gets stronger. You don’t worry when you get a little bit tired.”

Denmark’s Anders Hansen sizzled at the Tanjong course with a 64 to move to a share of fifth place on 133 alongside Michael Hoey of Northern Ireland, who carded a 66 at the same venue.

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