Stephen Dodd shoots into lead of China Open

Thursday, November 25th 2004, 4:22 pm
By: News On 6

SHANGHAI, China (AP) _ Stephen Dodd shot a two-under-par 70 on Friday to take a three stroke lead after a frigid second round of the China Open, the opening event of the 2005 European PGA tour.

Overcoming rain, gusting winds and temperatures as low as 2 degrees Celsius (36 Fahrenheit), the Welshman carded four birdies against two bogeys, chipping in on the eighth hole and draining an impressive 15 foot putt on the 15th.

``I kept the ball in play, made a few mistakes but you have to expect that,'' said Dodd, who finished 58th on the European Order of Merit last season.

Dodd moved to six-under 138 two-day total, closely pursued by Denmark's Soren Hansen, South Korea's Chung Joon and England's Matthew King at three-under-par 141.

Chung briefly dropped to six-under to draw even with the leader, but faded on the back nine to card a par 72 for the round with four birdies and the same number of bogeys.

Hansen came back from a double bogey on the fifth hole to card five birdies and two single bogeys to finish with 71.

``It was a tough day,'' said the Dane. ``I struggled a lot but holed a lot of putts.''

King notched two birdies against three bogeys for a one-over 73.

Bradley Dredge of Wales, England's Mark Foster and Australian Jason Dawes were one shot back at two-under total of 142.

Five shots off the lead, but still in contention, Denmark's Thomas Bjorn shot a 72 Friday to sit at 141.

Defending champion and local favorite Zhang Lianwei had a difficult round, carding five bogeys against just one birdie to move to one-over 145.

The inhospitable conditions at the Silport Golf Club were a sharp contrast to Thursday's pleasant weather and many of the players from warmer climes were clearly suffering.

Thailand's Marksaeng wore a stocking cap and heavy sweater but still sought shelter behind the yardage sign while waiting to take his shot.

Even the northern hemisphere players were taken aback.

``It was tough out there,'' said Bjorn, the highest ranked player in the tournament. ``I couldn't believe how cold it was.''

King said he hadn't played in such conditions since his amateur days.

``If conditions are the same at the weekend, just go out there with the same idea: Everyone will drop shots and you just have to try and not worry about it,'' said King, who collected two birdies against three bogeys.

Co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour, the China open this year doubled its prize money to US$1 million (euro760,000). Mainland China this season will host four European Tour events, heralding the country's rise as a destination for high profile international sports events.