Fraser leads Australian Open after two rounds, Watson rallies to make cut

Tom Watson at the Australian Open
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Tom Watson drew quite a crowd on Friday at the Australian Open as he fired a 68 to make the cut.
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PGA.com news services

Series: Other Tour

SYDNEY -- Marcus Fraser of Australia shot a second consecutive 3-under 69 on Friday to take a one-stroke lead after two rounds of the Emirates Australian Open.

Fraser had five birdies and two bogeys to move to 6-under 138 at The Lakes Golf Course. Fellow Australians Brendan Jones (71) and first-round leader John Senden (73) were tied for second. It was a rollercoaster round for Senden, who posted five bogeys and four birdies in the worst of the testing afternoon conditions.

Englishman Justin Rose was in a group tied for fifth at 3-under after a 73, while Adam Scott was five strokes behind Fraser.

Rose, who began the day two shots behind the overnight leader, started well with four birdies on the front nine to momentarily hold the outright lead at 7 under. But the world No. 4 produced a dramatic collapse on the way home, carding four bogeys in six holes.

Pre-tournament favorite Scott battled his swing and the conditions to post a 1-under 71 and remain within striking distance at 1 under. The world No. 7 avoided disaster on the par-5 11th, producing arguably the shot of the day to save par after dunking his second shot in the water.

Scott knocked his fourth shot from 175 yards to five feet and drained the putt. That seemed to spark the Queenslander, who added two birdies in his last five holes to get into red numbers.

Tom Watson shot a 68 Friday after his first-round 78 and made the cut with one stroke to spare. He was joined by playing partner and defending champion Greg Chalmers, who shot 75 Friday.

"I hate missing cuts, I really do," said Watson. "That means you've failed."

The 63-year-old began his second round on the back nine, making four birdies in six holes to turn in a 4-under 33. His only blemish of the day came at the par-4 third, but the American legend dug deep to produce a crucial birdie at the par-5 eighth to get to 2 over.

Chalmers said he would be hard-pressed to win his third national Open after failing to capitalize on good scoring conditions in the morning.

"Three par 5s on the back nine and I bogeyed two of them. That's not going to work if you want to have a good score out here," he said.

"I guess I'm going to get to play on the weekend so I get to go out and shoot a low score, but certainly I'm probably going to start a long way back."

Fellow two-time champion Robert Allenby (6 over) didn't qualify after a 77, nor did new PGA Tour card winner Steven Bowditch (9 over) after a 76.

Guan Tianlang, the 14-year-old Chinese amateur who will play in next year's Masters, improved on his opening 82 to shoot 70 Friday, but also missed the cut.

Fraser is playing for the seventh consecutive week -- in his seventh country. He'll travel to Malaysia next week to see if he can win the Asian Tour money title -- he is currently second -- making it eight tournaments in a row.

His grueling late-season schedule began in Malaysia in late September followed by China (WGC-HSBC Champions), the Barclays Singapore Open, the UBS Hong Kong Open, the European Tour's DP World Tour Championship in Dubai, then a failed attempt to secure a 2013 PGA Tour card in California last week.

On Thursday, Fraser was 3 over after 10 holes but staged a remarkable turnaround -- he birdied Nos. 11-14, then holed his tee shot at the par-3 15th for an ace.

"To have one go in like that, it turned the round and the tournament around from where I was," Fraser said.

And he's keen to go even better on the weekend.

"I've been playing so much I feel like I'm going with the flow a little bit," Fraser said. "Playing week-in, week-out you're going through the same routine every day and it feels like another golf tournament. At the same time it is the Aussie Open. Definitely it's the pick of the bunch of the eight weeks for me."