<
>

Rose, Harrington battling for Volvo Masters, money titles

SOTOGRANDE, Spain -- Justin Rose had a 3-under 68 Friday for
a four-shot lead over European Order of Merit rival Padraig Harrington at the halfway point of the season-ending Volvo Masters.


Rose, who was 1 over at the turn, had four birdies over his last
nine holes. The Englishman was at 4-under 138 after two rounds and
was only player in the 55-man field under par.


"I'm very focused right now and I'm staying in the moment and
that's why I'm playing so well,'' Rose said. "We're nowhere near
the finish line, so it's still very much just going about my
business, and the same old boring stuff, one shot at a time.''


Harrington, who won the Order of Merit money title here last
year, had birdies at the fourth and fifth holes before a bogey at
the last gave him a 71 for the day and even-par for the tournament.


"It's very much game on for the tournament and game on for the
Order of Merit,'' the Irishman said.


Harrington leads Rose by $948 in the European Tour standings.
With the winner of the Volvo Masters earning $960,488, both are in
position to overtake Order of Merit leader Ernie Els, who holds a
$313,892 advantage over Harrington but opted to play in Singapore
on the Asia Tour this week.


Rose nearly had a hole-in-one at the par-3 third for the second
straight day, sticking it close to the pin before making birdie.


But after missing a 5-footer for birdie at the fourth and
getting bogeys at the fifth, seventh and ninth, Rose decided to
play it safe.


"This golf course really lends itself to boring play; [hitting]
the middle of the green is never a bad thing,'' he said.


Harrington, the British Open champion, had 11 straight pars in a
much more consistent round after Thursday's up-and-down day.


"Strategy-wise, you have to go along like it's a Major,'' he
said.


First-day leader Graeme McDowell (75) of Northern Ireland was
joined by Spain's Miguel Angel Jimenez (70), Soren Kjeldsen (70) of
Denmark and India's Jyoti Randhawa (70) in a tie for third at 1
over.


With the soft course playing so tough with strong winds that
aren't likely to let up, organizers said the rough inside the ropes
would be slightly lowered for the final two days.