Fraser leads congested Aussie Open field

Marcus Fraser leads a congested leader-board at the Emirates Australian Open, his consecutive rounds 69 giving him a one shot advantage over overnight leader John Senden and Japan Golf Tour star Brendan Jones.

Fraser was out early on day two when the winds were at their lightest, Considering he was 3 over through his opening ten holes in yesterday's opening round it has been a remarkable turnaround.

"My thoughts at the time were QF 323," he said jokingly referring to the fact that he thought it might have been a short week and that he might be on plane out of Sydney. "I did not really do much wrong for the first 10 holes yesterday but all of a sudden I was three over par. I said to myself that there were a lot of birdie chances on the final stretch and I definitely made the most of it."

Fraser was delighted with his play overall but more especially his driving in the cross winds. "Maybe a few tee shots out there," he responded when asked what was the best aspect of his game today. I have always struggled with a left-to-right breeze. Being able to hold the ball into that breeze a couple of times was something that I took out of today."

Fraser has had his best year in Europe and is currently in second position on the Asian Tour. "Hopefully. I'm second in Asia now. I am already in the British Open for next year after finishing top 30 in Europe this year. Hopefully I can sneak a few more WGC events and the US Open. If I play well this week and next week, the Masters is a chance. That top 50 world ranking by the end of this year is pretty important."

Fraser has made a remarkable recovery from a game threatening neck injury two years ago. "Two years ago I did eight (events) in a row and had a neck operation in January after it. He was forced into the operation after aggravating an injury that had developed with perhaps too much travel but was worsened by picking up his son in a playful gesture.

"If I had not had the operation, there is no way I would have played again. No chance at all. It was a pretty easy decision to make. It sounds like a pretty full-on operation but it actually straight forward, from what the surgeon said. It is fairly common.

"For the last 18 months my neck had been better than it has been in the year before the operation. More than anything it was a big wake-up call for me. I realised how much I loved the game and how much I enjoyed being out here. Sometimes you take it for granted. You need something like that to give you a kick in the butt and to wake up."

Soon after Fraser finished Canberra's Brendan Jones finished his round. Jones has been a prolific winner of titles and money in Japan over the last eleven years but has not played at home as often as he would have liked due to conflicting events on what is his home tour in Japan. He has a proven record there however occasionally defeating fields of greater strength than the one he faces this week.

Jones was the best of the afternoon rounds yesterday and today continued on with it with an early birdie before a double bogey at his 7th hole. It was at his 7th hole yesterday where he also double bogeyed but he fought his way back to finish with a round of 71 to be at 5 under and one behind Fraser as the afternoon field headed out.

Jones appeared to have holed a curling 12 footer at the last to give him a share of the lead but it lipped out although he is well place for the weekend.

"I had chances and just wasted a few opportunities," said Jones. "Around the front 9 I hit two good shots down 1 and made birdie there, got a bit loose on 2 and 3 but it was nice. My finish was pretty good. Birdied seven and birdied and caught a lot of the hole on 9. I'm making enough birdies. I left a few out there but it's nice to be at the top of the leaderboard."

John Senden led overnight but today he never got ahead of his first round score and eventually finished with a round of 73 in the tricky afternoon conditions. He is tied with Jones for second.

In fourth position is the South Australian Nick Cullen who eased his way into contention with consecutive rounds of 70. Cullen is one of Australian golf's most improved players over the last two years, winning the

One Asia Tour's Indonesian Open early in 2012 in addition to several other good finishes in event in Asia, Australia and New Zealand.

The group of six players at 3 under and just three from the lead includes one of the pre tournament favourites Justin Rose. Rose moved clear of the field when he reached the turn in 3 under 32 before dropping four shots on the inward nine.

He still lurks as perhaps the biggest danger to those ahead of him however.

Steve Jones, Richard Green, Mathew Goggin, Gareth Paddison and Cameron Percy share 5th position with Rose.

A massive twenty seven players are within five shots of the lead including Adam Scott who fought his way back into contention with a back nine of 35. Despite his troubles over the opening two rounds Scott is not yet out of contention.

The cut fell at 3 over with exactly 60 players making it through to the weekend.

Craig Parry, Peter O'Malley and Robert Allenby were perhaps the biggest names amongst the casualties.

14 year old Guan Tianlang improved a massive 12 shots from his opening round of 82 to finish with a round of 70. He well and truly missed the cut but his effort today gave evidence of his immense talent.


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Bruce Young
About The Author : Bruce Young

A multi-award winning golf journalist, Bruce's extensive knowledge of and background in the game of golf comes from several years caddying the tournament circuits of the world, marketing a successful golf course design company and as one of Australia's leading golf journalists and commentators.

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