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Big names scrape through

Els came close to joining Quirici on the early casualty list


South African world number four Ernie Els survived a Swiss scare on Friday after only just making the cut in Crans-Montana.

Despite coming to Switzerland as the strong pre-tournament favourite, Els found himself one over par at the half-way stage and apparently heading out of the competition.

But as late results trickled through it emerged that scores of one over par would just be enough to make it into the weekend. That news also came as a major relief to European Ryder Cup captain Sam Torrance and Spanish legend Seve Ballesteros, both of whom had joined Els on one over.

As the stars wobbled, Argentinian underdog Ricardo Gonzalez stayed firm. Six under par after Thursday's opening action, Gonzalez put in another impressive performance, moving to ten under par on Friday.

But the former caddy, who is looking to follow on from reigning Argentinian title-holder Eduardo Romero, will take just a one-stroke lead into the third day's play after seeing England's David Gilford and Scotland's Gary Orr both come into the clubhouse on nine under.

Sweden's Thomas Bjorn went round the course in par on Friday to remain in contention with a combined score of five under, while veteran former US Open champion Craig Stadler is also still in the chase, a further stroke behind Bjorn.

The weekend was over before it had really begun, though, for all the home favourites.

While Quirici's score of two over par may have been disappointing by the Swiss number one's own high standards, it was easily the best of the local performances with all of Quirici's compatriots crashing out, most of them ending up with double figures over par.

by Mark Ledsom, Crans-Montana

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