Whiteford overcomes cold start to nab halfway lead at Avantha Masters

peter whiteford
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Peter Whiteford's start was as cool as the early-morning temperatures on Friday, but he rallied with five birdies and an eagle later in his round.
By
PA Sport and Associated Press

Series: European Tour

Published: Friday, February 17, 2012 | 11:19 a.m.

NEW DELHI, India -- Peter Whiteford of Scotland shot a 4-under 68 Friday to take a two-shot lead after the second round of the Avantha Masters.

Whiteford, 31, who shared the first-round lead with Alejandro Canizares of Spain after a 66, moved to 10-under 134 at the halfway stage to raise hopes of winning his first European Tour title.

"It's been a long time since I've had two good rounds in a row," said Whiteford, whose previous best finish on the circuit was runner-up in the 2010 Andalucian Open. "It was a lot harder first thing. The ball wasn't going anywhere at that time in the morning and I had a bit of a sticky patch, but then had a decent back nine.”

Canizares slipped into a tie for 16th with a 73 in the second round for a 139 total. He is part of a group that also includes Ireland's Paul McGinley, Scotland's Marc Warren, England's Jamie Moul and Wales' Rhys Davies.

Prom Meesawat of Thailand, a former world junior champion, is second at 8 under after shooting 64, so far the best score of the week, thanks to birdies on five of the last six holes. Two other Thais -- Chapchai Nirat and Kiradech Aphibarnrat -- were in a pack of four tied for third with a two-round aggregate of 137.

Whiteford, who fired five birdies and sank a 30-yard eagle putt on the par-5 sixth, said he had a fine day despite three birdies as part of his off-color start due to the cold weather he endured in his 7:25 a.m. tee time.
 
“Once it warmed up a bit, I started to play better and gave myself a few chances,” Whiteford said. “I wouldn’t say the swing feels brilliant, but sometimes that’s when you play your best golf -- when you’re struggling a wee bit.”
 
In an event that doesn’t feature any of the world's top 60, the 236th-ranked Whiteford said he needs to play another solid round to remain in contention on the last day.
 
“My improved driving has helped me in the tournament even though I did not use it so much today. I just need to concentrate -- to be 10 under is very good, but I wouldn’t say I’m overly confident,” he said.
 
Meanwhile, the two major winners in the field -- Americans John Daly and Todd Hamilton -- failed to sparkle in India’s richest tournament.
 
Daly, a two-time major winner with titles at the 1991 PGA Championship and the 1995 British Open, withdrew after suffering an elbow injury during his first-round effort of 7-over 79 on Thursday. Hamilton, who won the British Open in 2004, failed to make the cut of par with a two-round score of 9-over 153.

Welshman Jamie Donaldson, another seeking his first victory on the circuit, left himself four strokes to make up after three-putting at the final two greens, first for bogey and then for par.

At least he has a chance to catch up. Scotland's former U.S. Amateur champion Richie Ramsay missed the cut by one on 1 over after missing from two feet on the last.