Cabrera sets course alight

2005-12-02 18:22
Sun City - A splendid eight-under-par 64 saw Argentina's Angel Cabrera soar to the top of leaderboard after the second round of the Nedbank Golf Challenge played over the par-72 Gary Player layout on Friday.

His nine-under-par total of 135 puts Cabrera two shots ahead of Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke who in turn is a further stroke clear of American Jim Furyk and Englishman Luke Donald.

Defending champion Retief Goosen stayed in contention with a four-under-par 68 on Friday to end the two rounds on 139, four shots off the lead.

Els lies a stroke back

Australian Adam Scott fired a three-under 69 to be six off the pace with South Africans Ernie Els and Tim Clark both lying a further stroke back.

Chris DiMarco ended the day on one-under par, Sergio Garcia will start the third round on level par while Americans Kenny Perry and Stewart Cink trail the field, 13 and 14 shots behind Cabrera respectively.

Cabrera began the day at one-under and in sixth place but a round comprising nine birdies and just one drop - at the par-three fourth - propelled him into the lead.

His 64 is the lowest score recorded at the course since the alterations in 2003 which makes it now an official course record, although Els did shoot a 63 in 2002.

"I'm very surprised to be in this position," admitted Cabrera. "I never thought I would get a course record on my first visit to South Africa, particularly after finishing the first nine holes yesterday on three over.

But, he added, Gary Player had told him this course would suits big hitter and that he could expect to do well.

|"I can tee off with a driver on every hole and that I like," said Cabrera. "The greens are still soft so you can be aggressive and go for your shots."

Cabrera drove 368m off the tee

A perfect example of Cabrera's powerful striking of the ball came on the 550m par-five 15th where he drove 368m off the tee and then used an eight-iron for the remaining 182m.

He landed about 4m from the pin, just missed his eagle putt but converted a straightforward birdie.

"That hole is 601 yards," exclaimed one of the English journalists.

"Yes, but it is downhill," smiled Cabrera.

He birdied all four of the par-fives, as well as the par fours on holes one, five, 11 and 15 and the par-three12th.

His drop came at the par-three fourth when he put his tee-shot in the bunker on the left of the green and then missed a 4m putt for par.

Cabrera said he was very happy with his putting on Friday but added that you have to first have to hit good shots to the green, which is something he did very well.

Clarke escaped making a bogey

Clarke continued his solid play on Friday and managed to escape making a bogey for his first 30 holes. But something had to give on this tricky course and when he hit his tee shot into the rough on the par-four 13th, the bubble burst.

He had to take a drop but still managed to get his third shot onto the front of the green and then narrowly missed his par putt from about 25m.

"I deliberately played conservatively today," said Clarke. "It was a day I was between clubs and I didn?t want to blow myself out of the tournament."

Commenting on Cabrera's performance Clarke quipped: "Tomorrow Angel can play off the men's tees and I will put on a skirt and play off the ladies tees."

Furyk was somewhat erratic on Friday and never really made much of a charge although he did manage to birdie 15 where Clarke dropped and that kept him well in the hunt.

"It was a solid day but it would have been pretty good if a couple of putts that lipped the cup had dropped in. I'm nicely placed but I will need to find a hot putter this weekend."

Goosen had a shaky start to the day, three-putting for a bogey on the first hole but he started putting things together as the round went on. He went out in one-under 35 and came back in 34 and a good weekend could well see him retain his title.

For Els, it was another day of "the good,the bad and the ugly", as he said on Thursday. He had a triple bogey on 13 after hitting his drive left behind the trees.

His second shot clipped a branch and fell behind some more trees and when Els hit a left-handed shot out of the rough he double hit the ball and had to take a one-shot penalty.

He did manage to get to the front of the green, however, and a chip and two putts saw him chalk up a three-over seven.

Then, for the second day in a row, Els chipped in for a birdie on 15.

The expected winning score of 12-under now seems in jeopardy after Cabrera's stunning round, but he now sees it around 16-under.

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