Originally created 11/29/97

Qualifier leads Australian Open

MELBOURNE, Australia -- Nick O'Hern, who solved his caddie problem by getting his wife to carry his bag, shot a 66 Friday for a one-stroke lead after the second round of the Australian Open.

After carrying his own bag in the first round Thursday, O'Hern talked his wife Alana into taking a late-night flight from Perth to caddie for him.

"I was at the airport at four this morning to pick her up," said O'Hern, a 26-year-old Australian who had to qualify for the tournament.

O'Hern, who is at 11-under 133, has a one-stroke lead over Lee Westwood of England and a two-stroke margin over Greg Norman, seeking his sixth Australian Open title.

"I was talking to my wife coming up the 18th and she said something about how it felt being up there with the big names," O'Hern said. "All I could say was, `Oh yeah, I suppose.' It hasn't quite sunk in yet, but this is what I'm trained to do."

Norman, who has won the last two Australian Opens, had an eagle, five birdies and two bogeys in a round of 67. He holed out from a green-side bunker for birdie on the par-3 13th, and scrambled to save par on No. 9 after driving deep into the trees.

"I must admit, I have not heard of him," Norman said of O'Hern. "I saw him up on the leader board and questioned myself, `Do I know the guy?' The young talent in Australia is very impressive right now."

Westwood, a 24-year-old Ryder Cup player who has victories this month in Spain and Japan, birdied the final four holes for a 66.

"Yeah, I think I can win it," Westwood said. "No disrespect to the guy who's leading, but Greg Norman's obviously the one to beat. You can't take the world No. 1 lightly when he's one shot behind you."

Australia's Stephen Allan was three back after a 70, while Phil Mickelson (68) and Australia's Brett Partridge (70) followed at 137.

Mickelson, playing his first tournament in Australia, eagled the par-4 third hole, holing a six-iron approach from 167 yards.

"I love this course and I love this style of course," Mickelson said. "In the States you find many courses are wide open and long where guys can unleash it and that requires no skill. This course requires skill."


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