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February 20, 2004

Deaf South Korean Shares Lead in Malaysian Open

From: Reuters, United States - Feb 20, 2004

By Bernie McGuire

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Deaf South Korean Lee Sung-man was left sharing the lead when a tropical downpour brought a sudden halt to the second round of the Malaysian Open Friday.

Lee, who has been deaf from birth and communicates by lip-reading through his father who travels with him, carded a four-under-par 68 to move to seven under and join Thailand's Thaworn Wiratchant at the top of the leader board.

Ireland's Paul McGinley, with a round of 70, was tied for third with American Gregory Hanrahan who added a similar round of 70 to his opening 68 in the co-sanctioned European and Asian Tour event at the Saujana course in Kuala Lumpur.

The 24-year-old Lee, who has tried unsuccessfully the last four years to earn his US PGA Tour card, last month earned his 2004 Asian Tour card after finishing first at the qualifying school.

McGinley is striving for a first tour victory since the 2001 Welsh Open when he won in a sudden death playoff from Britons Paul Lawrie and Daren Lee after rain reduced the tournament to 36 holes.

The Irishman, who holed the winning putt in the 2002 Ryder Cup, managed four birdies in his round and said he is finally benefiting from new technology.

"The last time I was in Malaysia was four years ago and the best I could do on the par fives was 50 to 60 yards short of the green but with two good shots I can hit them now," he said.

Scotland's Colin Montgomerie was among those in the afternoon half of the draw who could not complete their second rounds due to the rain.

Montgomerie, who battled heat related headaches on the first day, had just holed an eagle putt at the 13th from six feet to move to four under par and three strokes from the lead.

"I just got very dehydrated and was sick as a dog when I got back to my room yesterday," he said.

Having started the day at one over, Montgomerie added: "Now it's game on."

Ireland's Padraig Harrington bogeyed his closing two holes in a round of 74 to end at one under par.

The second round was now due to resume Saturday morning at 8 a.m. local time.

© Reuters 2004. All Rights Reserved.