Lawrie leads by one shot at halfway point of Nedbank Golf Challenge

Paul Lawrie at the Nedbank Golf Challenge
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Paul Lawrie carded four birdies to just one bogey on Friday for a 4-under 140 total after 36 holes at the Nedbank Golf Challenge.
By
PGA.com news services

Series: European Tour

Published: Friday, November 30, 2012 | 11:42 a.m.

SUN CITY, South Africa -- Paul Lawrie of Scotland shot a 3-under 69 Friday for a one-shot lead after the second round of the Nedbank Golf Challenge.

Lawrie had just one bogey on Friday in another tough day for players at Gary Player Country Club. He made four birdies for a 4-under 140 total, which put him just ahead of his Ryder Cup teammate Martin Kaymer of Germany.

NEDBANK CHALLENGE

The 12-man all-star field is battling for the $1.25 milion winner's purse in the granddaddy of golf's high-profile off-season exhibitions.

''The course is demanding,'' Lawrie said. ''You have to drive the ball very well and keep the ball in play to give yourself a chance to get it close to the pin. It's a great golf course. So far, so good. But a long way to go.''

Kaymer had five birdies, but he had back-to-back bogeys on Nos. 8 and 9.

''Three under par is a very good score on this golf course,'' said Kaymer, looking for his first win of the year.

Charl Schwartzel recovered from a bogey on the second to finish at 71 for a share of third at 1 under with Francesco Molinari (71), Louis Oosthuizen (72) and overnight co-leader Bill Haas (73) -- two behind Kaymer and three off the lead.

Haas came back well on the back nine with three birdies for a 73. He doubled his first hole and bogeyed two more to make the turn at 40.

Defending champion Lee Westwood shot a 73 is on level par as he was left to rue a bogey and a double bogey as he ended 1 over for the day. He's aiming to become the first player to win three straight Nedbank titles. The No. 6-ranked Englishman made two double bogeys in his second round and did well to only bogey No. 14 after ending up in an island of deep rough in the middle of a bunker. Only a birdie at the last kept Westwood from slipping into plus numbers in his title defense.

Behind him is Peter Hanson at 1 over, before a real gap to the rest, with Carl Pettersson 3 over, Nicolas Colsaerts and Garth Mulroy 4 over and finally, Justin Rose, a further four shots back. It was a horror day for Rose, a 7-over 79 heavily undermined by a triple bogey on the par-4 third.

Lawrie could have signed for an even better score too, with a bogey on the par-4 15th hole stopping him from registering the outright best round of the day. He benefited from staying clear of the tough rough and handled the wind.

His approach to 5 feet on 17 set up the last of four birdies for the 1999 British Open champion. He's won twice in 2012 after going nearly a decade without a victory before last year's Open de Andalucia.

''I came back here a more experienced player, certainly a better tee-to-green player than I was in 1999,'' said Lawrie, who last played at Sun City the year he won the Open. ''I am a better player than I was back then.''