• Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, Round Two

Grace shows no signs of being under pressure

ESPN staff
October 5, 2012 « Wenger ready to give Walcott central chance | Chartbeat test »
Andrew Strauss had an interesting day at Carnoustie © PA Photos
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South African Branden Grace is threatening to run away with the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, after a second round of 67 at St Andrews on Friday left him five shots clear atop the leaderboard.

Grace, looking for his fourth European Tour win of 2012, made the most of the conditions on Friday to move to 17-under for the tournament - with five birdies in a six-hole stretch around the turn setting him nicely for the weekend.

Leading into the final day is far from assured, however, as Grace still has Carnoustie - the toughest of the three courses in use this week - to navigate.

The same is true of Joel Sjoholm, Grace's nearest challenger at 12-under after a matching round of 57. Thorbjorn Olesen is also 12-under, but could be poised for a strong move on Saturday having already wrestled with Carnoustie - carding a three-under par round of 69 that stands him in good stead.

Another South African, Anton Haig, is on his own at 11-under, with Englishman Graeme Storm among a group at ten-under for the tournament.

Of the most high profile players in the field, all are playing catch-up after facing Carnoustie on the opening day. German Martin Kaymer is the best placed of the bunch at three-under (after a round of 71 at Kingsbarns on Friday), with Ryder Cup team-mate Peter Hanson a shot further back.

Open champion Ernie Els is one-under, alongside American Dustin Johnson, with compatriot Louis Oosthuizen at level-par and Paul Lawrie and Charl Schwartzel all one shot worse off.

Elsewhere there was drama for Paul Casey - after a stray dog interfered with his eagle putt at Carnoustie's par-five 12th.

"The wee dog was roaming around this morning on the first tee when we teed off 10," said Casey. "So we got to the 12th fairway, the dog is running around, and to be honest it just looked like it was a little bit lost.

"So I went over and made friends with it on the back of the 12th green and next thing I know, the thing runs over and picks up my ball. I had about 30 feet for eagle. I was trying to get him to put it in the hole, but then he ran off with it up the hill toward the 13th tee.

"There was a moment when panic set in when I was wondering if I would have to play it where I found it!"

Casey ultimately made birdie, but faces a fight to play the final round as he currently sits in a tie for 56th.

In the pro-am element of the event, Grace's form is not enough for he and partner Gaynor Rupert to lead - pipped by a single shot by Thongchai Jaidee and playing partner Hugh Connerty Jr.

The shot of the day was undoubtedly performed by one of the amateurs, however, with Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps holing a 125-foot putt during his round at Carnoustie.

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