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Brett Rumford takes lead with a 63

Australian Brett Rumford, looking to go one better than his second place last year, shot a flawless nine-under-par 63 to take a three-shot lead midway through the $2.8 million Ballantine's Championship on Friday.

The 33-year-old bagged four birdies on his outward nine and added five on the way home for a 10-under total of 134 after two rounds to top the leaderboard from Spain's Miguel Angel Jimenez and Dane Soren Kjeldsen, who shared second on seven-under.

World number one Lee Westwood just missed an eight-foot putt for an eagle at his final hole and had to be satisfied with a 68 and a share of 11th, six shots off the pace.

"I struck a little bit of magic out there today and it's great to have these shots up your sleeve going into the weekend," Rumford, who is seeking his fourth European Tour title at the co-sanctioned event, told reporters.

"I'm in a position now to be thinking (about a win), for sure," he added. "At the beginning of the week, maybe not so. I haven't come into this week with great form but this is a fickle game and it changes from week to week."

Spain's Miguel Angel Jimenez finished his round with two successive birdies for a 67, while Dane Soren Kjeldsen picked up five shots on his back nine to card a 66.

Ireland's overnight leader Damien McGrane bogeyed two of his last four holes to slump to a par 72 and a tie for fourth on six-under with Britons Rhys Davies and James Morrison.

World number 12 Dustin Johnson was a shot further back tied for seventh with three others after struggling with his putting on the firm greens at the Blackstone Golf Course.

"I'm rolling it good and they look like they're going in, but are just barely missing," the tall American, a four times winner on the U.S. PGA Tour, said after signing for a 69.

"If I'd made a few in the last couple of days then I'd be right up there in the lead. I just need to get some putts going early in the round tomorrow and hopefully feed off that."

Three-times major winner Ernie Els hit a second successive 73 to miss the cut along with local Yang Yong-eun, South Korea and Asia's only major winner, and Britain's world number 17 Ian Poulter.

The tournament is co-sanctioned by the European, Asian and Korean Tours.


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