Palmer leads in Hawaii

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Ryan Palmer shot a four-under-par 66 to take the outright lead going into the weekend at the Sony Open in Hawaii.

American Ryan Palmer capitalised on a good opening round to take the outright lead going into the weekend at the Sony Open in Hawaii.

Palmer, who shared the overnight lead, shot a 4-under 66 to finish the second round at 9-under 131, one shot ahead of a chasing pack of three. Palmer’s round was characterised by calm, consistent play on a windy Waialae, with a lone bogey staining an otherwise spotless card.

“Obviously, yesterday was a great start to the year,” said Palmer. “And today I was really pleased and almost surprised on how calm and relaxed I was.

“I was curious how I was going to come out and get the day started after playing well yesterday and how my nerves were going to hold up, if any, and it was great.”

Palmer will start the third round one shot ahead of pre-season practise partner Chad Campbell, Robert Allenby and defending champion Zach Johnson.

Campbell sailed through a bogey-free round that included six birdies on a course that has a special place on his calendar.

“I enjoy the course,” he said. “It’s one of my favourite courses we play all year. It’s got a lot of character to it. I just love playing it.”

Allenby, who also had a share of the six-way overnight lead, played through the pain of a twisted ankle to continue mining the vein of form that saw him claim victories in Australia and South Africa at the end of 2009. Allenby actually attributed his ankle with the conservative play that saw him recover from two early bogeys to card five birdies and stay in contention.

“When you feel good, you play a little more aggressively,” he said. “Now I’m backing off a little bit, hitting into little areas. I was happy with the way I managed myself around the course. I relied on my short game.”

Johnson’s round, on the other hand, was anything but consistent. Starting on the back 9, the defending champion carded three birdies before finding the bunker on the par-3 9th hole. Johnson misread the depth of the sand and overflew the green to another bunker with his next shot, and then had to play towards the tee after finding his ball plugged. A poor chip and two putts later, and Johnson had slipped down the leaderboard with a triple-bogey. He was to lose another shot after three-putting the par-4 1st for a bogey.

“I’ve never thrown it in, but I’ve been really anxious to get off the golf course,” Johnson said. “At that point, I was really close.”

But the American showed the mettle that saw him win last year, coming in with one bogey and five birdies – two of them in the last two holes – to finish one shot off the lead.

He’ll have some stiff competition if he wants to retain his title, though, with several players within sight of the lead going into the weekend.

Masters champion Angel Cabrera (68), Davis Love III (69), Troy Matteson (67) and Shane Bertsch (68) were a further shot back on six-under, while Paul Goydos had the round of the day after improving on his opening 72 by nine shots to get to five-under at halfway in a group also including Retief Goosen and Rory Sabbatini of South Africa.

England’s Justin Rose was another to make a big move with a second-round 65 to improve to three-under.

Rose’s fellow Englishman Brian Davis moved to one-under following a 69 but Luke Donald missed the cut despite posting a two-under 68 that left the Ryder Cup star at two over par with the cut line at one-over.

Former Open and US PGA champion John Daly and a Swedish trio of Jesper Parnevik, Mathias Gronberg and Daniel Chopra were part of the group making an early exit.

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