/ 15 November 2008

Els, Dyson lead in Singapore

Phil Mickelson suffered a bogey on his last hole after a spectator took a photo during his swing but the American still closed the gap on leaders Ernie Els and Simon Dyson at the $5 million Singapore Open on Saturday.

Mickelson, completing his storm-interrupted second round in overcast morning conditions at the par-71 Serapong Course, saw his second shot at the par five 18th plunge into the water after the ill-timed snapshot distracted him.

The world number three carded a three-under 68 and will start the third round five strokes behind Els and Dyson, who sit atop the leaderboard on six under for the tournament.

Local hope Lam Chih Bing, Thailand’s Chapchai Nirat and 19-year-old Rory McIlroy from Northern Ireland are two strokes off the lead at four under, while three-times major winner Padraig Harrington is on level par.

Mickelson was irate after having to settle for a bogey six at the relatively straightforward 18th hole.

”That’s by far the angriest I’ve seen him in 16 years,” caddy Jim Mackay said behind the 18th green while Mickelson signed for his score.

However, the American left-hander quickly put the incident behind him and said he was aiming to make up more ground when the third round got underway later in the day.

”I need to go out and make some birdies. I think if I can shoot five-six under I can get right in contention for Sunday’s final round,” he said.

Torrential rain
Weather has been a major factor in the opening two rounds of Asia’s richest national open, with play held up for several hours on Thursday and Friday.

Torrential rain and lightning sent spectators scurrying for cover on Friday and forced organisers to suspend the second round for three hours with more than half the field still to complete 36 holes.

Organisers have been forced to come up with contingency plans for weather delays and representatives from the tournament, sponsors Barclays and the Asian Tour have met to discuss the possibility of a potential spillover into next week.

Should third-round play go ahead on Saturday, the tournament will definitely run for 72 holes, ”even if that means a Monday finish,” they said in a statement.

Singapore’s own Lam, who also finished his second round early on Saturday, said he was pleased to be in contention going into the weekend but would not allow himself to look too far ahead.

”I’m not thinking about winning. I’m taking it one shot at a time, one day at a time,” he added. ”It’s not easy but that’s the game plan.”

The third round is due to start around 1pm (5am GMT) with the cut projected at four-over-par. – Reuters