Tight at the top in Bahrain
Eight players are separated by a single shot at the halfway stage of the Volvo Golf Champions in Bahrain.
Eight players are separated by a single shot at the halfway stage of the Volvo Golf Champions in Bahrain – and one of them got there with his putter in two pieces.
A moment of anger after a succession of misses might have cost 47-year-old Miguel Angel Jimenez dear, but in a remarkable closing stretch he had a hat-trick of birdies using his lob-wedge instead.
Round in a seven-under-par 65, the Spaniard goes into the weekend on the 11-under mark of 133 and sharing top spot with Ryder Cup team-mates Peter Hanson and Edoardo Molinari and also Frenchman Raphael Jacquelin.
Former cup pair Darren Clarke and Paul Casey, South African James Kingston and Scot Stephen Gallacher are right on their heels, Gallacher following a course record-equalling 64.
Clarke took great delight in telling how playing partner Jimenez “just caught the edge of his bag” with the putter, adding that his backswing was “a bit long”.
The Malaga golfer was in the mood to laugh about it as well, though, after picking up shots at the 15th, 16th and 17th.
“I think now I putt with my lob-wedge,” he joked.
In contrast Molinari’s start made his day. He birdied the first six holes and closed with another for a 65 as he looked for a win that could take him back above his brother Francesco on the world rankings.
And that is saying something given that Francesco, himself well in the hunt at nine under, is currently ranked 15th.
Jacquelin also shot 65, while Hanson added a 67 to his opening 66 as fellow Swede Johan Edfors, the overnight leader, fell back with a 71.
Sergio Garcia, playing his first event of the year, is in the group just three behind after a rollercoaster 69, but Padraig Harrington still has six shots to make up and both Colin Montgomerie and Ian Poulter made the cut with only a stroke to spare at three under.
Montgomerie is the course designer of the new European Tour venue and, as was probably to be expected, Poulter did not hold back in what he thought of the undulating greens after his frustrating first day 72.
On his Twitter site Poulter told the absent Lee Westwood that he should have joined him and Rory McIlroy in having a week off.
“School boy error playing,” he wrote. “Apparently the Architect wanted to make a statement with the greens. He did that alright.
“Simply the WORST greens I have ever seen & I’m not joking. They are embarrassing.”
Casey would have been tied at the top but for a bogey on the 17th, yet it was a good bogey. After driving into the water he chipped in.
“I don’t have very good control of the ball,” he said. “That tee shot was horrific and I’m not sure what direction it’s going.
“I gave myself opportunities when I could find it. Luckily the course is generous in places and you can get away with it – I showed that.”
Gallacher commented: “I was eating breakfast and saw Molinari had started with six birdies, so I knew it was on.”
He matched the first five of them and after a bogey on the 18th came home in 32.
Garcia crashed from nine under to six under with a double bogey on the 474-yard 15th – he hit his approach into the lake – and bogey on the short next, but finished with two birdies.
In an unusual move the cut survivors are joined for tomorrow’s third round by amateurs.
“Should be lots of fun,” tweeted Poulter, almost certainly in jest.
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