Espana leads in Spain

Little known but aptly named Frenchman Edouard Espana holds a one-shot lead heading into the weekend at the Open de Espana.

Prior to this week, Espana, a Challenge Tour graduate, had only once broken 70 in his rookie year on the European Tour, but he now holds the lead in Barcelona after rounds of 69 and 68.

The 25-year-old lies on seven under par at Real Club de Golf El Prat after mixing four birdies with a solitary bogey on the day.

“The level of tournaments is high on Tour so it’s difficult, but I will try and keep going,” said Espana.

“I played really well today because it’s very windy. I played really good and I’m really happy.

“My family is from Spain – that’s why my name is Espana. It’s really good, my cousins are here this week,” he added.

Espana is one shot clear of Argentine Ricardo Gonzalez, who led for much of the round after earlier posting a clubhouse target of six under par.

“I love playing in Spain, I have good friends here, and the food is good, like in Argentina, so I feel at home,” said Gonzalez.

“I get on very well with all my Spanish colleagues, so it would be nice to make the youngsters work a bit. Many people support me here, so I will try to give them a good show.

“I had a wonderful week in Q-School and it gave me the chance to be here today. Last year was a hard year – that’s golf when your mind is not there. This year I’m focusing more on my game.”

Northern Irishman Michael Hoey follows on five under par after rounds of 71 and 68. He’s tied with South African Darren Fichardt, who could only manage a 73 on the day.

Fichard’s countryman, and overnight leader, Trevor Fisher Jr had an even worse day, posting a six-over-par 78 to drop down to one under par on a tough day for scoring due to blustery on-course conditions.

The top ranked player in the field, Sergio Garcia, found himself below the cutline on three over after an even-par 72 in the morning, but by the time the day’s action was wrapping up, the Spaniard had made the weekend with a shot to spare – a testament to the tricky conditions on offer.

Defending champion Miguel Angel Jimenez is six shots off the pace despite carding his second hole-in-one of the season. He signed for a 71.