Defending champion in share of lead


MELBOURNE, Australia, AP

Defending champion Aaron Baddeley shot a 3-under-par 69 Friday to share the second-round lead with New Zealander Greg Turner in the Australian Open golf tournament. Australian Scott Laycock is in third place, at four under par, one stroke ahead of fellow Australian Peter O’Malley. Greg Norman, with a 69 Friday, was also in a group of five players sharing fourth including Englishman Nick Faldo and former champion Robert Allenby of Australia. Turner, who had a 70 Friday, began his second round in a three-way tie for the lead but broke the deadlock when he holed a 14-foot putt for birdie at the third hole. Baddeley, a shot off the lead after 18 holes, produced a near faultless round over the Kingston Heath course to put himself in the hunt for a second consecutive win _ this time as a professional. Last year, he became the first amateur in 39 years to win the tournament and the youngest at 18. “I am definitely looking at the trophy and if you are in a position to win, you like to do it,” Baddeley said. “I guess this year, being defending champion, there is definitely more pressure, and in a way, that helps you focus. “You know everyone is watching and you just have to go out there, play your own game, and hit good golf shots.” Baddeley birdied the second and seventh to go 5 under, then made the turn and went to 6-under with a birdie on the par-4 11th. His only bogey in 36 holes came at the short par-4 13th, but he got it back at the next hole, maintaining the momentum until the end of a round he said had contained only two “shaky” holes. Queensland state 17-year old junior Steve Bowditch added a 70 to his opening-round 72 to put him four shots out of the lead. “My aim was just to enjoy the experience, take it all in and hopefully make the cut,” Bowditch said. “It’s my first time in Melbourne. I’ll be playing with some really good players and I’m looking forward to it.” Bowditch recently stunned members at Queensland’s Kooralbyn Valley club when he fired an 11-under-par 61 from the back tees in a weekly competition. Former U.S. amateur champion Matt Kuchar, making his pro debut, slumped to a 75 Friday after an opening-round 69 to sit at 144, six strokes off the lead and tied with a group that includes Australian Stuart Appleby and South African Ryan Reid. American Mark O’Meara shot a 74 Friday to add to his opening 76 and missed the two round cut. (djp)