Aussies returned from World Cup of Golf brink

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Marc Leishman and Cam Smith stood, cold and wet, at the ISPS Handa Melbourne World Cup or Gulf abyss and then rushed away.

The Australian couple, joint leaders after a hot four ball opening on Thursday, found themselves seven battles behind Belgium after a shaky foursome started near Antarctic conditions at Melbourne's Metropolitan Golf Course on Friday.

But in the nick of time, the Aussies, favorites of the pre-tournament, retreated with three crucial birdies at the trot from the 14th to the edge back in the battle halfway.

The 76 of the Australians left them in a share of eighth out of six below, but only four behind joint leaders Belgium (71) and Korea (72) who were equal parts stoic and brilliant in conditions that reduced some countries to the wave equivalent of vibrating mess.

So cruel was the rain and the wind on occasions that drew no less than five countries for scores of worse than 80 capitulate with Greece on the back nine with three triple-bogey sevens en route to a 87.

New Zealand signed for a second round 76 where the Kiwis only found one birdie – in the par-five seventh place – in a round Mark Brown and Ryan Fox could only describe as a slog that ended with a three-under -total and a share in 14th.

Only four nations returned sub-par scores with Belgium accompanied by Italy (-9) and Scotland (-6) with 71s, while the Mexican combination (-7) of the newly crowned Australian Open champion Abraham Ancer and Roberto Diaz were the standouts that a 70 to slide to the seventh.

Ancer said the couple had played together a lot, including playing together in the same format at the Z├╝rich Classic of the PGA Tour in the US, where they learned the nuances of alternative golfing.

"We have worked really well together and that has turned out today," said Ancer.

"There is a lot you have to do to play well (in squares) and I think our round today showed that we are a good team, especially in those circumstances."

Leishman smiled when asked about the severity of the circumstances.

"I do not play when it is so normal," he joked. "When I look out of the window and that's how I sit on the couch.

"I do not make excuses, it was the same for everyone … some boys played very well and there are some good scores out there, but unfortunately not from us."

The Aussies had their bad luck on the first nine, including a ball in an almost unplayable lie in the rough on a small island in a greenside bunker on the fourth that resulted in a bogey out of nowhere

A triple bogey in the short sixth was followed by Leishman's inability to escape a bunker on the 10th and another double bogeyman who had left the hosts at the edge.

"It's the simple things, like leaving it in a bunker, you can not make those mistakes," Leishman said.

"But looking at the positives, we fought well there and we have two more days to go.

"We were seven back with a few holes to go and then had those three birdies in a row and now we are four back and it is not done yet."

Smith, who had several good putts, stayed out, was equally lively.

"In such circumstances things like that will just happen … but I thought we had reasonably limited our damage," Smith said.

"Especially at the beginning of nine, we played really solid golf, we stayed with our weapons and it paid off."

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