Slattery leads as Donald stutters

Lee Slattery leads by one after round two of the Madrid Masters, while Luke Donald had a late slip-up to fall further behind.

Lee Slattery leads by one after round two of the Bankia Madrid Masters, while Luke Donald had a late slip-up to fall further behind.

The World No 1 looked on course for a second consecutive 68 or better after reaching the 16th hole four under par for his round thanks to five birdies following an early bogey at the second, but two late errors cost him dearly.

Donald dropped a shot at 16 after missing the green with his tee shot and fluffing his chip and then, even more uncharacteristically, he three-putted the 18th green for his third bogey of the round, resulting in a second round 70 that left him on six under par for the tournament, a full five strokes off Slattery’s lead.

Donald will have his work cut out for him if he’s to successfully defend his Madrid Masters title at El Encin Golf Hotel this week, though he is still far from out of the contest.

The day belonged to Slattery, however, who produced a second-round 66 to add to his opening 67.

The Englishman lost his Tour card in 2007, and at 136th on the Race to Dubai at present is in danger of losing it again.

He put himself in a great position to avert that eventuality today, however, after producing seven birdies and a lone bogey to finish on the top of the pile.

The highlight of his round came at the 14th, where he sunk a monster birdie putt to bounce straight back from his bogey at the 12th.

“I got off to a good start, I was two under early and just kept it together and had a nice finish, birdied the last two holes,” Slattery said.

“It’s mainly down to putting. I putted very well today, seemed to hole everything. I drove the ball well. On this course you can give it a good smack off the tee and you feel yourself trying to hit it harder and harder.

“I was actually getting too cautious with my game but round here you can’t be, you just whack it. This suits me because I just enjoy it and don’t think too much – that’s the key. I don’t think I’ve ever walked off the course feeling so relaxed.”

Slattery leads Italy’s Francesco Molinari and Spaniard Eduardo De La Riva, who both shot rounds of 67, by one shot, while another Italian, Lorenzo Gagli, is alone in fourth a further shot back after a second-round 70.

Molinaro was happy with his round in the slightly trickier conditions.

“It was a good solid round, I’m hitting the ball better than I was this summer,” he said.

“Today’s round was trickier than yesterday’s because of the wind. I’m even more pleased today. Five under is a good score in any conditions.”