Friday, August 19, 2016

Pieters and Winther share Czech Masters lead

Defending champion Thomas Pieters will take a share of the lead into the weekend at the D+D REAL Czech Masters after firing a second consecutive 67 at Albatross Golf Resort.
The Belgian arrived in Prague after a 6,000-mile flight from Rio de Janeiro where he finished fourth in the Olympic Men's Golf Competition but showed no ill-effects from his travels as he went round bogey-free on Friday.
He had Jeff Winther for company at the top of the leaderboard after the Dane fired the low round of the day with a 66 to join Pieters at ten under.
There is a group of six players four shots off the lead, made up of Ryder Cup hopeful Matthew Fitzpatrick, his three fellow Englishmen Steven Brown, Tommy Fleetwood and David Howell, and Swedish pair Peter Hanson and Robert Karlsson.

Pieters claimed his maiden European Tour title at this event 12 months ago and then went on to also win in his next start, and he will have to repeat the feat at next week's Made in Denmark if he is to have a chance of making it into Darren Clarke's plans for Hazeltine.
"It's always nice to go bogey-free and make some nice putts," he said. "I'm hitting irons very well, my ball-striking has been very good the last few days. It feels controlled and stress-free golf.
"It's the same gameplan, I've actually been a little less aggressive this year but it's paid off because my wedges have been a lot better than last year. Hit some three woods and if you can fly some bunkers out here, why not do it?
"All I can do is do my best this week and we'll see where it brings me and then next week it's the same thing."
Winther finished second at the Tshwane Open in February and while he has only made three cuts since then, he was not playing like a man short of confidence.
He made birdies on the tenth, 11th, 13th and 14th and when he found the green on the first in two and rolled in a 12-footer, he was ahead. Another gain came on the third but Pieters had birdied the fourth, sixth, seventh and tenth and a fifth of the day on the 13th cut the lead to one.
Winther then dropped his first shot on the eighth to drop back into a tie.
"It was fantastic," he said. "I was doing well for the first hole and I kept chugging away.
"The eagle at ten was a surprise because I was full sure I was in the bunker. There was one in there but it was Oli (Fisher), so I guess mine bounced around it and onto the fairway. I was a bit lucky but I hit a great shot onto the green and a great putt too so it was a thieving eagle!
"It's been a long time since I've been playing good so it's nice to get some good rounds in and keep working at it.
"I have no thoughts going into the weekend, just keep playing every shot and don't think about anything, just go and enjoy it."

Fleetwood and Howell both fired rounds of 68 while Fitzpatrick - who occupies the final qualifying spot for the Ryder Cup -  and Brown went round in 69.
Karlsson added a 70 to his opening 68 while Hanson had looked to be the closest challenger to the leading duo before dropping a shot on the 17th in his 71.
American Daniel Im was then at five under alongside Scottish pair Craig Lee and Marc Warren, and English duo Ryan Evans and Richard McEvoy.
SCOTSWATCH: Craig Lee (68-71) and Marc Warren (71-68) lead the seven Scottish qualifiers with 36-hole tallies of 139. They are joint ninth. Scott Jamieson is T19 on 141 (68-73).
Andrew McArthur (73-70) is on 143 (tied 33rd).]
Three Scots made it through on the limit mark of one-over 145 - Paul Lawrie (69-76), fellow Aberdonian David Law (71-74) and Dunbar's David Drysdale (73-72).
Three Scots missed out - Paul Shields on 148 (72-76), Peter Whiteford 150 (74-76) and Jamie McLeary 159 (82-77).

Par 144 (2x72)
134 J Winther (Denmark) 68 66, T Pieters (Belgium) 67 67
139 Craig Lee 68 71, Marc Warren 71 68 (T9)
141 Scott Jamieson 68 73 (T19)
143 Andrew McArthur 73 70 (T33)
145 Paul Lawrie 69 76, David Law 71 74, David Drysdale 73 72 (T63)
MISSED THE CUT (145 and better qualified)
148 Paul Shields 72 76
150 Peter Whiteford 74 76
159 Jamie McLeary 82 77 





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