Barham leads way as Olazabal misses cut

JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL and Nick Dougherty were among those to miss the halfway cut as England’s Benn Barham retained the lead at the Austrian Open in Vienna.

Barham’s rounds of 63 and 66 took him to 13 under par, his 129 total equalling the lowest of the European Tour season.

He goes into the weekend two in front of 2007 winner Richard Green, the Australian left-hander also returning a five-under 66 in the second round, and three ahead of Scotland’s Scott Drummond (68).

Olazabal — given a late invitation to the tournament earlier this week — however, crashed out on level par after going in the water and double-bogeying the short 17th for a 72, while Dougherty’s second successive 71 was not good enough either.

The lowest round of the day was a 64 from Welsh Ryder Cup hopeful Bradley Dredge, runner-up at the European Masters on his last start two weeks ago.

It included seven successive birdies, one short of the Tour all-time record, from the 14th, although placing of the ball was being allowed on the wet fairways.

Barham, yet to win on the circuit and down at 175th on the money list, has had an eagle and 12 birdies so far.

“You never know what will happen in this game,” he said. “I’ve been working with a new coach the last few weeks and it’s just a case of letting it go.

“I’m pleased with the direction it is moving. With the way my season is going I needed a different direction to freshen things up — playing the same week-in week-out was frustrating.

“Robert Watts has given me a few new things to work on and I have been striking it well. As a golfer if you hit the ball well you think well and everything falls into place.

“There is a long way to go. I’ll try to treat it as another round with my mates at Chart Hills. The moment you get caught up in it the problems start to arise.”

Drummond, who earned a five-year exemption with his 2004 PGA Championship victory at Wentworth, is also striving to be among the top 115 money-winners who keep their cards at the end of the season.

The 35-year-old stands 158th, but victory for him or Barham on Sunday would mean they do not have to look at the standings any more.


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