Refreshed Ogilvy takes Open lead

Despite being one of Australia's best in recent years, Geoff Ogilvy has yet to win his own national open but at the completion of day two of that event at the Lakes Golf Club in Sydney he is well poised to do so.

Ogilvy leads by one over Arizona based New South Welshman Matt Jones and by two over first round leader Matthew Griffin. There are a further two shots back to American Dudley Hart, 2006 champion John Senden and the late finishing Paul Sheehan.

Almost perfect conditions greeted the field on day two of the Australian Open and it would not take long to realise that the surprisingly good scoring of Thursday morning would be equalled if not bettered.

For much of the morning the winds blew gently from the east. With the golf course still softened by the deluge Sydney received earlier in the week, the recently revamped layout close to Sydney's Kingsford Smith airport was ripe for then picking. Many did just that but by mid morning the breezes increased significantly and the afternoon field would feel the effects.

Ogilvy played with the man who in recent years has challenged him for the mantle of Australia's best, Adam Scott, and the pair produced quite a show.

Ogilvy was round in 65 while Scott recovered from a precarious opening round of three over par with a round of 66 to not only keep himself in the tournament but open up the outside possibility of a successful defence of the title he won by five shots last year.

Ogilvy made a slow start with three opening pars but then the rush began. He would birdie five of the next six holes to establish quite a break before the turn and gave his nearest rivals further cause for concern when he birdied his 12th and 18th holes for his seven under par round. When he walked from the course at 12.15 his lead was by four over Griffin and Hart.

Hart had finished his round just twenty minutes earlier while Griffin would not tee off until 12.15 where he would face the more difficult afternoon winds.

Ogilvy was delighted with his round but he had also been pleased with the way he had played yesterday. "It (yesterday's round) was one of those rounds where I walked off with one or two better than I should have," said the leader after his round. "That was nice as you normally walk of feeling that you had one or two more than you should have. It is always nice to shoot a decent score when you play in the afternoon in Australia especially as generally it is easier in the morning.

"Coming out this morning it got windier earlier than I had wanted it to but this particular wind on the back nine makes the par fives easier. It was quite windy but pretty much every hole on that back nine plays easier in this wind. The course would be a much stronger test from the south east.

"The greens are slower than they look. The surfaces are perfect but there is so much moisture in there that you find you are forced into making yourself really hit the uphill putts."
When asked about his state of mind compared to this event last year he responded. "I am much happier this year. I was pretty much over it this time last year. This was my sixth tournament in seven weeks last year while this year I have had seven weeks off. I have had a really good time away from the game and practised pretty hard for a month."

"This is a tournament we all want to win as Australians. I am playing well. I played well at Victoria (the Australian Masters) but I didn't make any putts. I did not walk away from form there with any disappointment however as I knew I was playing well.

A few hours later, Griffin and Jones finished at similar times in the afternoon field, Jones recording the lowest round of the tournament (64) to move to 10 under. The 30 year old Jones is based in Arizona and has played the last three seasons on the PGA Tour and has done well enough in 2010 to retain his status for 2011. He has yet to win an event on either the Nationwide or PGA Tour or anywhere for that matter but he has a game more than capable of doing so.

Jones was raised in Sydney but attended Arizona State University. He has however retained his relationship with coach, Gary Barter, at the Australian Golf Club where he played much of his amateur golf before heading to college in the US.

He returned to Australia with his wife in mid November and has spent time working with Barter over the last week or so to get ready for this week and next week.

"I spent some time with Gary today on the range before the round, figured something out and used it and played well. It was essentially something that helped me control the ball in the wind. It was good out there but I also made some par saving putts to keep the round going."

Griffin did well to record a round of 70 after leading on day one. He is building experience in these situations and the more times he puts himself in them the better he will become. The weekend will be a demanding one for him but he has a level of maturity that belies his relative in experience as a professional.

Hart is a two time winner on the USPGA Tour and is here to get his game in shape to tackle that tour in 2011 courtesy of a Major Medical Exemption. Hart has been plagued with back problems which required surgery and has not played a competitive round in eighteen months. His is quite a story.

Senden is lurking and playing well. He was unable to fully capitalise on his fast start to the tournament yesterday but he is well enough placed.

Paul Sheehan has just finished a tough year on the Japan Golf Tour although he did well enough to retain his playing rights for next year.

The cut fell at 1 over with 64 players making it to the weekend.

Among those was tournament drawcard Greg Norman who produced a performance against the odds by making the cut in just his second event in the last fifteen months. Norman added a round of 69 to his opening 74 to be at 1 under.

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