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Record nine-way share of the lead in Qatar but no Australians

SScott Hend the only Australian survivor (Photo: Bruce Young)
On a day where a record nine players share the lead at the completion of 36 holes of the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters in Doha, Scott Hend has been the only Australian to make it through to the weekend.

Hend added a second round of 72 to his opening 69 and at 3 under par he sits in a share of 45th position and five shots from the lead.   

In the meantime the top of the leaderboard looks a little like Piccadilly Circus as a record was set in terms of the numbers of leaders at the halfway stage.

That lead had been initially set by Finland’s Mikko Korhonen, who recovered from double bogey seven on the ninth hole to card a one under par 71, and he was joined by Spanish pair Jorge Campillo (67) and Nacho Elvira (69) Welshman Bradley Dredge (72) and South African Thomas Aiken (68), before Aiken’s compatriot Jaco Van Zyl, playing in the afternoon groups, became the seventh player to share the lead. 

Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat (70) and Korea’s Jeunghun Wang (67), who were grouped together, then made it nine players tied at the top, the first time that has happened at the 36-hole stage of any tournament on the European Tour. It also equalled the record for the most number of players tied for the lead after any completed round in a European Tour event, set after the opening round of the Wales Open in 2007. 

A further seven players are just one shot back on seven par on a packed leaderboard at Doha Golf Club, while World Number Ten Alex Noren (70) and four-time Major Champion Ernie Els (70), the 2005 winner, are a further shot adrift on six under par. 

“I had a frustrating start to the day," said the highest world ranked of the leaders, Andy Sullivan. "I thought the front nine was a nine I could really get going and sort of platform me into the back nine, but it didn't really happen. I thought tee-to-green, I struck it really well, but didn't quite convert the putts.

"My caddie just told me to be patient on this nine and I was still hitting good shots. Finally the putts started to drop. All in all, I’m reasonably happy with that. I feel going into the weekend, I just need to improve on the par five scoring.”

Meanwhile, with the cut falling at two under par - just six shots behind the leaders - Englishman Chris Paisley secured his spot for the weekend with a spectacular finish to his round, birdieing the 16th and 18th holes, with an ace on the par three 17th sandwiched in between thanks to perfect nine iron from 135 yards.

Paisley looked to be on his way home before he covered the back nine in just 30 shots to sign for a round of 67 and a three under par total, with the added bonus of US$150,000 from Qatar Duty Free for the hole-in-one, which was his first on the European Tour.

Of the other Australians in the field Sam Brazel missed the cut by one, Jason Scrivener by two with Nathan Holman and Wade Ormsby even further back.

New Zealander, Ryan Fox, playing in just his third European Tour event as a card-holder, continued what has been a good start to his career there by making the cut on the cutline and at least boost  'down-under' prospects for the final 36 holes.



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