Golf: Goosen well placed to cash in

Retief Goosen hopes to kick-start the defence of his title in the South African Open in Durban.

Retief Goosen hopes to kick-start the defence of his title in the South African Open in Durban.

Goosen found himself just four shots off the lead held by countryman James Kingston at the halfway stage at Durban Country Club.

But the US Open champion was still dissatisfied with his performance over the first two days as he looks to match his amazing achievements in 2001, when he won two European events in addition to his first major title.

European number one Goosen, who described his play as "terrible" on Thursday but was saved by a red-hot short-game, said: "I hit the ball a lot better on Friday, but I struggled with my putting.

"Perhaps if I can combine the two on the weekend, who knows? I had my chances to play better but I didn't use them."

Kingston enjoyed a two-shot lead over the field after defying the strong afternoon winds blowing in off the Indian Ocean to card a superb 67 to end the day on 11 under par.

English pair Andrew Butterfield and Jonathan Lomas shared second place with South African duo Martin Maritz and Tim Clark a shot further back.

Kingston has four wins on the Asian Tour and two in South Africa to his credit, but is not even a full member of the European Tour.

"I'm trying to get on the European Tour. I'm an affiliated member, and I'm hoping to do a little better this time in the events that I can play on the tour," Kingston said.

"Through the 10 events I get to play in, maybe if I play well enough I could get my card that way."

Butterfield owed much of his performance to a short-game as hot as the weather, although his were skills honed in far colder climes back home in Kent over the winter.

The 29-year-old, who led a European Tour event for the first time for much of the day after gaining his card with seventh place at the qualifying school in November, said: "I'm very pleased. It was down to a good short game and putting, I had 27 putts today and only 25 yesterday.

"It's been frosted over at home and the putting green was diabolical, so I only did a bit of practice on the living room carpet and down the range."

Butterfield, who lost his card in 2000 and spent last year on the Challenge Tour, added: "I feel ready for the tour now. The last two years have been tough but I know what I have to work on to improve and I feel like I've made some headway.

"I'm enjoying my golf and it's good to play for purses like this in nice countries and good weather."

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