Cejka grabs one-shot lead at halfway point of Turning Stone Championship

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Alex Cejka is trying to become the first foreign-born winner at Turning Stone; international players have won 11 of the last 15 PGA Tour events.
By
Associated Press

Series:

Alex Cejka of the Czech Republic shot a 4-under 68 to take a one-stroke lead after the second round of the Turning Stone Resort Championship on Friday.

Chris Tidland had a 69 and first-round co-leader Rory Sabbatini shot a 70 to share second at 9 under on the Atunyote Golf Club course.

Wind gusts that reached 30 mph wreaked havoc throughout the day, but Cejka birdied four holes after he made the turn to give him eight birdies and no bogeys on the back nine through the first two rounds of the tournament. Cejka opened with a 66 on Thursday, hitting 12 of 14 fairways and 16 of 18 greens.

"I didn't play as good today as yesterday," Cejka said. "Obviously it was a little bit easier yesterday, no wind. Today, the 30-mile-an-hour gusts, it was tricky. But I hung in there."

Robert Garrigus, Woody Austin, John Mallinger, Omar Uresti, Brian Davis and 1995 PGA Championship winner Steve Elkington were next at 7-under 137.

Cejka has never won in 227 starts on the PGA Tour since 1996, but has 24 top-10 finishes. He was runner-up at the 2004 International and tied for second at the 2003 B.C. Open. In three previous starts on the 7,482-yard Atunyote layout, his best finish was 53rd place in 2007. He is trying to become the first foreign-born winner in the four-year history of this event.

"I've been playing really well the last two months," Cejka said. "I was struggling a little bit the last two weeks. I missed the cut, I was a little bit hurt, but I came here, I like the course. And, you know, two rounds to go, a lot of things can happen but I'm playing well. We'll see what happens. If I keep playing like the last two days, I'll be very pleased."

Cejka birdied Nos. 10-12, finishing the run with a short putt after a nice chip from 40 yards out on the par 5. His last birdie came on the par-4 17th, when he converted a 10-foot putt following an effective approach.

Tidland also birdied Nos. 10-12 to reach 11 under, but bogeyed 13 and 15 to slip back. He finished with seven birdies and four bogeys on the day.

Tidland was one of 24 golfers who did not complete the first round on Thursday because of a 2-hour, 43-minute weather delay that morning. He had to finish early Friday before he started the second round.

"Played really nice yesterday. Hit a lot of close iron shots. Made some good putts," Tidland said. "And then today, it was tough. Fortunately, I hit my irons good again today. Drove it in play and made some key par putts."

The 37-year-old Tidland tied for sixth at the 2007 AT&T Classic, which is his best finish on the PGA Tour. He tied for 18th place in his only other appearance at this event in 2007.

Sabbatini rallied late with birdies at Nos. 16 and 18. He put his tee shot on the 154-yard 16th within 8 feet and made the putt. On the 613-yard closing hole, he was in a greenside bunker after his second shot, but blasted out to 2 feet.

"The conditions were tough out there, there's no doubt about that," Sabbatini said. "I gave myself opportunities again and unfortunately I didn't capitalize on the par fives very well again today but I'm getting better. I birdied two of them today, so improving my chances, but no, things are going good. I'm still hitting the ball well.

"Obviously the wind made it a lot tougher to get close to the holes and give yourself a lot more feasible birdie opportunities, but I'm still there, close, for the weekend."

The best round of the day belonged to Brenden Pappas, who shot a 66 and is tied for 38th at 3 under.

There were 72 players who made the cut at 2 under.


Comments

juergenhipp

Dear Sirs,

after quite some years on the PGA Tour it should have come to your notice that Alex Cejka is a German citizen, although he was born in Czechoslovakia (as it was called in those days). He came to Germany at the age of 9, as you can read on his homepage http://www.alex-cejka.com/. As this misleading information constantly shows up in your articles and sometimes even inserting the wrong flag in your scoreboard information it would be nice to inform your authors about these circumstances. Or would it occur to you writing about Martina Navratilova "of the Czech Republic", although she became a US citizen as a grown up person and not as a child like Alex?

Yours faithfully

Juergen Hipp