Lafeber stars in Portugal Masters

Maarten Lafeber leads the Portugal Masters by two strokes at the halfway stage after another impressive round in Vilamoura.

Maarten Lafeber led the Portugal Masters by two strokes at the halfway stage after another impressive round at the Oceanico Victoria course in Vilamoura.
While the 35-year-old Dutchman could not quite match his impressive 64 from Thursday, when he carded 11 birdies, his round of 67 was enough to give him sole leadership on 13 under par heading into the weekend.
Mikko Ilonen was his closest challenger after the Finn carded a four-under-par 68, with local hopeful Jose-Filipe Lima and Raphael Jacquelin a stroke further back.
Lafeber started the day level on eight under with Robert Karlsson and Johan Edfors, but both Swedes slipped off the pace after solid rather than the spectacular rounds they produced on Thursday.
Karlsson carded a 71 to be four strokes off the pace with Edfors’ even round leaving him a shot back.
Lafeber did not take long to pick up from where he left off on Thursday as he eagled the par-four second before birdies in three of his next four holes.
Ilonen, who shot an unblemished round with four birdies, had set the early clubhouse lead but Lafeber built a lead, despite dropping a shot at the par-three eighth, with birdies at 10 and 12.
Lafeber had a late hiccup when he drove into the water on 17 but recovered enough to drop just a single stroke and preserve his lead going into the weekend.
But with the Oceanico Victoria playing friendly, and with perfect conditions expected at the weekend, Lafeber’s lead is likely to come under fire over the weekend.
Ryder Cup hero Francesco Molinari showed how the Algarve course can be tamed with the round of the day as he shot a 10-under-par 62, following his Thursday 74, to haul himself back into contention on eight under.
“You will get a lot of chances around here so if you stay out of the water you will have a chance around here,” Karlsson told Sky Sports 1.
“I missed a few putts. The wind was a little bit tricky today.
“But it’s a four-day golf tournament. I’m not too worried now. If you are four or five shots behind on Sunday you still have a chance.”
English quartet Richard Finch, David Dixon, David Howell and David Horsey were in the group of six players tied for fifth on eight under.