Local golfer Downes takes lead - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Local golfer Downes takes lead

By Mike Hedge 25/01/2005 09:04:30 PM Comments (0)

Local golfer Chris Downes shot a four-under par 68 at Kingston Heath Golf club to take the half-way lead in the Australasian leg of International Final Qualifying for The British Open to be played at St Andrews in July.

In stifling heat Downes finished a shot clear of Melbourne's David Diaz and two ahead of veteran Peter Fowler and Marcus Cain.

Four places in this year's Open are on offer at the qualifying tournament, first played internationally last year.

Downes did his best work in the middle of the round as the temperature neared 40 degrees, making five birdies between the seventh and 12th holes.

On fairways and greens made hard and fast by the baking sun and a hot, northerly wind, his only blemish was at the par four 17th hole where he three-putted.

"I didn't play great golf but I stayed out of trouble and holed some good putts," Downes said.

"Conditions were tough, but not the toughest that Kingston Heath can offer."

A winner by eight shots of the NSW PGA in 2003, Downes attempted to enter the Open via a similar route in the United States last year, only to miss out by three shots.

Diaz failed to gain one of the four places on offer at Kingston Heath last year and had made three previous attempts to qualify in Britain.

Both said they were glad of the chance to attempt to pre-qualify at home after disappointments overseas.

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