STEPHEN Gallacher has the halfway lead in his sights when he returns to finish his second round this morning in the £1.9 million Ballantine’s Championship in South Korea.
Buoyed by his victory in the Dubai Desert Classic earlier in the year, the 38-year-old resumes just two shots behind the clubhouse leaders at Blackstone Golf Club in Icheon after covering the opening 12 holes of his second round in three-under to move into joint-sixth on five-under.
On a day when compatriot Paul Lawrie also made a significant leap up the leaderboard – the Aberdonian bounced back from an opening 75 with a flawless five-under 67 – Gallacher had built up a nice head of steam when play was suspended due to bad light.
“The course is good and I’m delighted to be sitting so close to the lead as the wind was swirling and tricky this afternoon,” he said after a thrust consisting of four birdies.
Due back at the course to resume at 7.30am this morning, Gallacher, who is determined to qualify for the US Open by climbing into the top 60 in the world rankings over the coming weeks, is aiming to maintain the good work and put himself in a position to challenge for a third European Tour victory in the final two rounds.
“After I finish my round in the morning, I’m going to have a long wait until the third round and the hotel is an hour away from the course,” he added. “As for whether or not people will be taking notice of my name being on the leaderboard again after Dubai, we’ll just have to wait and see if that’s the case or not.”
Peter Whiteford, Richie Ramsay and Marc Warren were also still out on the course when play was curtailed. Whiteford, on three-under with ten to play, and Ramsay, one-under after 11 holes, are both sitting inside the cut mark, but Warren needs to find some birdies after slipping from two-under to two-over with eight holes of his round to play.
Lawrie is safely into the final 36 holes after the 44-year-old produced one of his best rounds of the season. After returning yesterday morning to finish off his first round, he was in danger of missing the cut but a five-birdie effort took care of that threat.
“Much more like it today,” he said on his website. “I hit it really good and the putter was much better. I still missed a load of putts – yes, I know, stop moaning – but it’s true.”
Sharing the clubhouse lead on seven-under after an 80-minute suspension due to the threat of lightning are Australian Wade Ormsby and Thailand’s Arnond Vongvanij.
Ormsby claimed his maiden title in 13 years as a professional at the Asian Tour’s Panasonic Open in Delhi earlier this month, a week before his good friend, Adam Scott, triumphed in the Masters.
“My game’s in pretty good shape,” said Ormsby after matching Lawrie’s 67. “I had the last two weeks at home practising, so it was nice to come out here and keep the form going.”
Meanwhile, Chinese teenager Guan Tianlang looks set to follow up his historic performance in making the cut at the Masters by making it through to the weekend’s rounds at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.
The 14-year-old carded a three-under-par 69 in his second round yesterday to sit three-under for the tournament.
With the afternoon groups still on the course, the promising youngster was in 43rd place with the top 70 players and ties set to make the cut.
Guan shot five birdies and two bogeys, leaving him nine strokes behind leader Lucas Glover.
The American, who carded 67 on the second day to add to his opening round of 65, is 12-under-par, one stroke ahead of his countryman Boo Weekley.