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Three-way tie in Russia

Published: 8:09AM Saturday August 19, 2006 Source: Reuters

Spain's Francis Valera shot five-under-par 67 to move into a three-way tie for the lead after two rounds at the Russian Open on Saturday.

Valera joined fellow Spaniard Carlos Rodiles and overnight leader David Drysdale at 12-under-par 132.

Another Spaniard Alejandro Canizares had a bogey-free round with five birdies to move into contention, a stroke behind.

Defending champion Mikael Lundberg also had a good round with six birdies despite making a bogey on the last hole.

The Swede and England's Andrew Butterfield, whom he beat in a sudden-death playoff last year to win his maiden European Tour title, are now tied for sixth, three shots off the pace.

Kiwi Stephen Scahill scraped into weekend play, hitting a one-under 71 to make the cut by a single stroke. Fellow New Zealander Gareth Paddison wasn't so lucky, his second straight one-over 73 saw him miss the cut by three strokes.

Briton Drysdale, who shot 70, struggled to maintain Thursday's electric form when he equalled the course record with 10-under-par 62 at the Moscow Country Club in suburban Nakhabino.

"I was very tired today," said the 31-year-old Scot, still looking for his first European Tour victory.

"Over the last few holes I was very tired. I had a nice run of four birdies in a row but then bogeyed two of the par threes and that is always disappointing."

England's 44-year-old Malcolm Mackenzie finished on level par, just missing the cut in his 599th European Tour event.

NHL All-Star Alexei Kovalev, making his European Tour debut as one of only four amateurs in the 111-strong field, came dead last at 19 over par.

The Montreal Canadiens right wing, who captained Russia's ice hockey team at this year's Turin Olympics, was nevertheless satisfied with his performance.

"I think I did just fine considering it was my first tournament of such a high calibre. Making the cut here would practically be equivalent to winning a Stanley Cup," Kovalev, who lifted hockey's biggest prize with the New York Rangers in 1994, told Reuters.

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