Friday, May 13, 2011


Chris Wood holds a three-shot lead at the halfway stage of the Iberdrola Open as the Englishman put himself on course for a maiden European Tour title on the island of Majorca
Breezy conditions made for tough scoring at Pula GC, and the 23 year old - who has twice finished in the top five at The Open Championship - recorded a five under par 65 to advance to eight under.
Leading the chase are Wood's compatriot Matthew Nixon and Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke, who not surprisingly was enjoying the links-style conditions as he signed for a second round 70.
"You just have to keep it in play and think your way round a bit more," said Wood, who picked up six birdies before dropping his only shot at the 16th after his drive finished behind a tree.
"I am taking some holes on and being a bit more considered on others and it is working. I played lovely all day really but it's funny how it can change so quickly.
"I was cruising along and then came to 16 and that is not an easy tee shot. I was just trying to work the ball towards the bunkers on the right but ended up under a tree. I made bogey from there and then on 17 I hit a shot that had I played it a few hours beforehand would have been six feet from the pin but because the greens were firming up it bounced through the green. Not every shot is going to work out so I played nicely overall."
Wood has had 14 top-ten finishes on The European Tour, and the closest he came to winning was a play-off defeat in the Africa Open at the start of the current season.
"It will happen - I just need to keep putting myself in these positions," said Wood when asked about his long wait for a title. "The more that I can do that then the more chances I will have to win.
"It suits me this course. It can be tricky and you have to think your way round which is how I like to play golf - to try and be aggressive when I can and conservative when I have to. It is not a bombers course and it is only going to play shorter as the week goes on."
Clarke, who won the last of his 12 European Tour titles at the KLM Open in 2008, looked to be sliding out of contention when he started the day with an outward 38, but four birdies in six holes after the turn put him back on track.
There was another dropped shot when his tee shot found water at the 16th, but the former Ryder Cup star was satisfied with his day's work.
"I didn't play badly I just hit a few errant shots that, as I said earlier, put me in the wrong spots which you can't afford to do on this golf course," he said. "The wind turned on us on 16 and I hit my tee shot the wrong way so dropped one there but all in all I am pretty pleased, five under going into the weekend."
European Tour rookie Nixon, who was the only amateur to secure a card at last year's Qualifying School Final Stage, shot a level par 70 which included two double bogeys.
The 21 year old Englishman, who won the British boys' title at Royal Aberdeen in 2006, shot six birdies but two dropped shots at the par four third and par three 18th, the latter after hitting his tee shot into a bunker and three putting, prevented him getting closer to Wood.
"I think I'll be more dwelling in the fact that I am playing well and have a great chance over the weekend having missed the last two cuts," said Nixon when asked about his finish.
"I just have to go out there and give it 100 per cent and see what happens. There are scores to be made out there but if you hit a couple of lose ones then you can make a big number so hopefully I can keep it going and keep the mistakes off the card.
"There is work to do over the weekend and some great players in the field so I will keep my head down and see what it brings over the next couple of days."
Overnight leader Grégory Bourdy had a day to forget as a seven over par 77 sent him back to level par the day after he broke the course record.
Another Englishman, David Lynn, climbed into a share of fourth on four under with a second straight 68, and was joined by France's Thomas Levet, who matched Wood's best-of-the-day 65.

SCOTSWATCH. Paul Lawrie continued his fine spell of form with a 69 for 137 to be five shots off the pace in joint sixth place with two rounds to go. Scott Jamieson also continues to go well although he went over par with a 71 for 138 but he is still inside the top 10.
David Drysdale is just outside the top 10 after a 71 for 139 - one shot ahead of Alastair Forsyth, sharing 20th place on 140 after a 72. The other Scots  to survive the cut at a generous four-over-par 144 were Chris Doak, who had a 70 for 142 to be in joint 25th place, and the Saltman brothers, Elliot (74) and Lloyd (69) as well as Peter Whiteford (70), all tied 30th on 142.
Steven O'Hara (75-145), George Murray (73-146), Marc Warren (74-146), Colin Montgomerie (73-150) and Jack Doherty (81-155) all bowed out after two rounds.

Par 140 (2x70)
132 Chris Wood (England) 67 65.
135 Matthew Nixon (England) 65 70, Darren Clarke (N Ireland) 65 70.
136 Thomas Levet (France) 71 65, David Lynn (England) 68 68.
137 Simon Thornton (Ireland) 72 65, Paul Lawrie (Scotland) 68 69, Danny Willett (England) 64 73.
138 Scott Jamieson 67 71 (T9).
139 David Drysdale 68 71 (T12).
140 Alastair Forsyth 68 72 (T20).
141 Chris Doak 71 70 (T25).
142 Lloyd Saltman 73 69, Elliot Saltman 68 74, Peter Whiteford 72 70 (T30).
MISSED THE CUT (144 or better qualified)
145 Steven O'Hara 70 75.
146 George Murray 73 73, Marc Warren 72 74.
150 Colin Montgomerie 77 73.
155 Jack Doherty 74 81.



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