Cejka Leads in Home Country

By Sports NetworkMay 21, 2004, 4:00 pm
04 Deutsche Bank-SAP OpenHEIDELBERG, Germany -- Germany's Alex Cejka matched his own course record Friday with an 8-under 64 and took the lead midway through the Deutsche Bank-SAP Open TPC of Europe. He stands at 11-under-par 133 and leads by three over first-round co-leaders Gregory Havret and David Howell.
Cejka set the original mark at Golf Club St Leon-Rot in the first round of the 2002 event. Mark Pilkington and three-time champion Tiger Woods equaled the feat the same year.
'I'm very delighted today,' said Cejka, who splits time between the European Tour and the PGA Tour. 'We had an early tee time and it was still pretty calm. The first nine holes I had a great start again, but towards the end, the wind got up, it was a little bit challenging. It's nice to be on the leader board again.'
Havret and Howell each posted matching rounds of 1-under 71 to share second at 8-under-par 136.
Trevor Immelman, who also held a piece of the first-round lead, shot an even-par 72 and is tied for fourth place with Darren Clarke (67), Louis Oosthuizen (68) and Stephen Scahill (69). That group is knotted at minus-7.
Cejka started on the back nine Friday and broke into red figures in an impressive fashion. At the par-5 12th, Cejka knocked a 5-wood on to the green in two and rolled home the 20-footer for eagle.
The German tallied back-to-back birdies at the 12th and 13th holes then found more success at the next par-5. At No. 17, Cejka reached the green with a 3-wood and drained his 20-footer for his second eagle of the round.
'The first nine holes I had a great start again,' said Cejka, whose best finish this season on the European Tour was a tie for 14th last week at the Asian Open. 'I had two eagles - it always helps.'
Cejka continued his fine form on the front side with a 10-foot birdie putt at the first. He added another at the par-5 third when he two-putted from close to 30 feet.
Cejka bogeyed the par-4 seventh hole for the second consecutive round but he reached 11 under par at the ninth hole. He hit his approach to 4 feet and converted the short birdie putt.
The 33-year-old was fortunate even to compete this week. On Sunday, Cejka injured his leg and when he arrived at St Leon, he immediately received treatment but his leg did not respond.
'I would say if we would not be here in Germany, I don't think I would have played on Thursday,' admitted Cejka. 'But, I'm a fighter and I was trying to forget the pain and just try as hard as I can.'
Havret flew out of the gate on Friday with four consecutive birdies. He dropped a shot at the fifth, then bogeyed the par-3 12th when his 9-footer for par missed the cup.
He joined Cejka in a share of first with birdies at 15 and 17 but trouble loomed at No. 18. Havret drove into the water at the 18th and ultimately three-putted for a triple-bogey-7.
'It's quite hard for me because I lost three shots on that one hole,' said Havret, who won the Italian Open in 2001. 'I tried hard all day and did some good things but, right now, I am disappointed because of the finish. Still, golf is like that.'
Howell mixed three birdies and a bogey in his round of 71.
Defending champion Padraig Harrington shot a 4-under 68 and is tied for eighth place with Klas Eriksson (69), Anders Hansen (70), Alan McLean (72), Eduardo Romero (69) and German Marcel Siem (72). That group is knotted at 6-under-par 138.
Ernie Els was cruising toward the top of the leaderboard until he drove into heavy rough at the 17th. He advanced his ball but it stayed in heavy rough and the No. 3 player in the world left with a double-bogey-7.
'I kept it together until the 17th,' said the current No. 1 on the Order of Merit. 'That was a disaster. The wind kept getting stronger and stronger and it was a pity about the finish.'
Els posted an even-par 72 and is tied for 14th at minus-5.
The 36-hole cut fell at 2-over-par 146 and among the notable players who will miss the weekend are: Nick Faldo and Angel Cabrera (152), Colin Montgomerie (153) and Open de Sevilla winner Ricardo Gonzalez (157).
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  • Move over Lydia, a new Ko is coming to LPGA

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