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McDowell Storms in to Three Shot Lead After Second Round


A run of form which came just too late to earn him a place in the European Team for next week's Ryder Cup Matches at Oakland Hills Country Club, nevertheless took Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell into the halfway lead in the Linde German Masters at the Gut Lärchenhof course near Cologne.

While first round pacesetter Padraig Harrington slipped back into the pack with a 75 and three Members of the European Team - Colin Montgomerie, Paul McGinley and Ian Poulter - missed the halfway cut, the 25 year old took advantage of calmer afternoon conditions to post a sparkling 64 and 11 under par halfway total of 131.

The round included a 123 yard wedge into the 14th hole for an eagle two leaving McDowell three shots in front of France's Raphaël Jacquelin and Australian left-handers Richard Green and Nick O'Hern.

McDowell, a Walker Cup team-mate of Luke Donald's three years ago, still had a chance to make Bernhard Langer's line-up with a week of the race to go. However a closing 62 in the BMW International Open, the lowest tournament round of his life, was not enough, but it was the start of a purple patch which continued when he was sixth in the Omega European Masters in Switzerland last week.

The Portrush golfer played with world number three Ernie Els every day there and beat him by one. "I learnt that short game is everything," commented McDowell. "He didn't play great, but his short game display was like nothing I have ever seen before.

"His demeanour is something I have tried to model myself on. It helps on days like today - I didn't get too excited. When the Ryder Cup team was announced I was a little disappointed, but I'm not going to beat myself up about not making it.

"I didn't realise how realistic making the team was, but I will definitely be working as hard as I can to be there in Ireland in 2006. Everything I do will be geared to it."

Harrington had been one ahead after his opening 66, but refused to be despondent about falling eight strokes adrift. "I didn't play any worse and even shooting 75 I'm still happy with my form," stated the Dubliner.

"You want to be going in the right direction before the Ryder Cup - not playing your best game, but going in the right direction. I played lovely early on, but kept leaving myself awkward putts.

"Then I got distracted by a marshal before my third shot to the third." He caught it fat, then left his chip short as well and missed a three-foot putt to run up a double bogey seven.

The three players tied for second place - Green, Jacquelin, and O'Hern - all had identical days, posting second successive 68s, the most remarkable round coming from the newly married Jacquelin who reached the turn in one over par 37 but blistered home with five birdies in an inward half of 31.

Of the Ryder Cup Team in action, Thomas Levet is doing best in sixth place at six under par, while Paul Casey stands four under, Darren Clarke and Harrington three under and Miguel Angel Jiménez level par.

Ian Poulter led at halfway on 16 under par last year, but was a massive 27 shots worse off this time, following his opening 76 with a 79 to exit on 11 over. Only a handful of players finished below him.

He will now use the weekend to forget about it and concentrate on the week ahead - sure to be one of the most exciting of his career. The same, of course, goes for Montgomerie and McGinley even though they have tasted the Ryder Cup experience before.

Another player to miss the cut was Langer himself, who played well from tee to green but could not get the putts to drop and his 77 saw him miss the cut - which fell at three over par 147 - by three shots.

By courtesy of http://www.europeantour.com 

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