Ernie Els leads Hong Kong Open

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Ernie Els celebrated his 45th birthday in style by shooting a five under-par 65 to take the lead in the Hong Kong Open.

The South African is on nine-under at the halfway stage, two clear of France's Raphael Jacquelin and Australian duo Scott Hend and Cameron Smith.

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The four-time major winner carded six birdies, four of which came in the space of five holes, and one bogey during his second round.

Trophy drought

Els hasn't won a title in 42 attempts but knows he's in a decent position to end his trophy drought this weekend.

"I played quite nicely and 65 is what I needed to do. I'm looking forward to the rest of the week and obviously in a good position," Els said.

However, the birthday boy is aware that he needs to put his party on hold until after the tournament.


"I won't have any alcohol to celebrate but I'll have a bit of cake and relax back at the hotel and see what we do for dinner tonight," he added.

Smith looked likely to score the best round of the day after he produced seven birdies in his first 10 holes. However, a second bogey of his round on his final hole meant Smith had to settle for 65.

Fellow Australian Hend faces a fight to retain his European Tour card and did his chances of doing that no harm as he produced a round of 66 while Jacquelin shot a 67.

The leader after day one, Jyoti Randhawa, has slipped down to a tie for fifth after he could only manage a second round of level-par. Ten other players join Randhawa on six-under par including Englishmen Lee Slattery and Seve Benson who managed impressive rounds of 66.


Nicolas Colsaerts surprisingly missed the cut over enduring a nightmare second round which saw him card a nine-over par 79. The Belgian managed a round of 60 at the Portugal Masters last week but despite a four-under par during day one, a score of five-over at the halfway stage meant he wouldn't be playing during the weekend.

Defending champion Miguel Angel Jimenez also failed to make the cut as a level-par 70 saw him miss out by two shots.

Stomach bug

The Spaniard had been struggling with a stomach bug during his first round and he began poorly with four successive bogeys on the front nine. An eagle on the 13th gave him a chance of making the cut but he couldn't pick up the shots needed to give him a chance to defend his trophy.

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