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Montgomerie Moves Up at Hong Kong Open

November 17, 2006

HONG KONG (AP) _ Defending champion Colin Montgomerie shot a 4-under 66 Friday to move up the leaderboarad and remain five shots behind Spain’s Jose Manuel Lara after the second round of the Hong Kong Open.

Lara, who also shot a 66, was at 10-under 130 _ remaining one stroke ahead of France’s Gregory Bourdy (66).

South Africa’s Retief Goosen missed the cut of 140 by one stroke after two bogeys and a double bogey gave him a 1-over 71 in the second round of the $2 million tournament, jointly sanctioned by the Asian and European Tours.

``Tee to green, I thought I was excellent today, but I putted very badly,″ Goosen said. ``I couldn’t read the lines on the green and I had, I think, 34 putts.″

Hobbled by an injured ankle, New Zealand’s Michael Campbell struggled to stay in contention, shooting three birdies against four bogeys for a one-over 71 that put him nine strokes off the lead. Campbell, who walked with a slight limp, said his ankle gave out on him during Wednesday’s pro-am warmup and he almost quit after Thursday’s first round.

Montgomerie was worried about missing the cut after finishing 1 under in the first round because of poor putting. However, the Scottish Ryder Cup star charged back Friday.

``I hit the ball closer to the hole. That was all really. Hit the ball closer and holed a few putts. The front nine was OK,″ said Montgomerie, who sank four of his five birdies on the front nine.

His troubles on the greens returned on the back nine when he three-putted a par-3 hole. He said he was having difficulty with the speed of the greens due to the grain.

``I am back in the tournament but disappointed really, as that could have been very good, very good, as yesterday should have been. Never mind. We are still back in there,″ Montgomerie said.

Lara, who made five birdies for a first-round 64, also got off to a strong start at last month’s Volvo Masters and the Mallorca Classic, both in Spain, where he led the early rounds before fading. He expected a tough contest in the last two days at Hong Kong.

``I think it will be very tight. No player will win by five,″ Lara said.

Sitting two strokes off the lead were Australian Andrew Buckle (65), China’s Zhang Lianwei (63) and Juvic Pagunsan of the Philippines (65).

Buckle, who was bogey free with five birdies, was still unsatisfied with his game.

``I would like to hit it a bit better the last two days,″ he said. ``I hope to improve my putting. I struggled a bit with the speed of the green.″

After sharing the overnight lead with Lara, India’s Jyoti Randhawa shot a 69 to fall three strokes back.

``It was tough to judge shots, especially on the greens,″ said Randhawa, who last month won his second Indian Open title. ``But shooting a bad round and coming out with a one-under and still in the top five, I’ll take that.″

Randhawa shared fourth place with compatriot Jeev Milkha Singh (67), Asia’s top earner at $470,108. Singh could clinch the Asian Order of Merit with a win in Hong Kong.

The Hong Kong Open is the second tournament of 2007 European Tour season.

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