GOTEMBA, Shizuoka Pref. – Hideki Kase carded his second straight 6-under-par 66 on Friday to move into sole possession of the lead at the midway point of the Mitsui Sumitomo VISA Taiheiyo Masters. Overnight joint leader Kase drained seven birdies against his only bogey of the day on the par-3 No. 4 at Taiheiyo Club’s Gotemba Course to move three shots clear of Katsumune Imai on 12-under 132. Imai followed up a pair of birdies with an eagle on the 18th on the way to a 67 for second place. Defending champion Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland surrendered his share of the lead after a 71 and closed in a tie for third with Katsumasa Miyamoto and Daisuke Maruyama. Clarke, a two-time winner in Japan, bogeyed both ends of his round and made three birdies over a seven-hole stretch and sits five shots off the lead. Australia’s Steven Conran and South Korea’s S.K. Ho are tied for sixth another stroke back.
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