MADRID (Reuters) – Irishman Paul Dunne improved on his fine opening round at the Spanish Open to race three shots clear atop the leaderboard at the halfway stage with a superb seven-under 65 on Friday.
Spaniard Nacho Elvira, Australian Brett Rumford and Callum Shinkwin of England shared second place on 10-under.
Dunne held the overnight lead with Marc Warren of Scotland but nine birdies, offset by two bogeys, saw him set a clubhouse target of 13-under in better conditions after rain on Thursday.
“It’s just one of those days,” he said on the European Tour website. “I went on playing, I wasn’t really thinking about the score, then the score kind of built on itself.
“My game is in good shape, I’m feeling good. I see a lot of birdies around this course if the weather stays like this so hopefully I can make them.”
Local favorite and world number four Jon Rahm started the second round a shot behind Dunne but finished four off the pace with a 68 as he was left cursing a poor showing on the greens, although he remained optimistic about the weekend.
“It’s a little bitter-sweet just because my ball-striking felt amazing,” said Rahm.
“I was just getting a little frustrated that I didn’t make putts. I had so many close calls, so many putts that I hit close that just didn’t go in, it’s just incredibly frustrating.”
Warren also slipped four shots behind Dunne in a four-man group with Rahm, Englishman Robert Rock and Swede Henric Sturehed, while holder Andrew Johnston carded a four-under to finish five shots back in a six-way tie for ninth.
Johnston, nicknamed ‘Beef’, got the day’s biggest cheer by unearthing Rahm’s ball in long grass on the 15th, sparing the Spaniard a return to the tee as he was awarded a free drop.
Englishman Andy Sullivan recovered from a 75 in the first round by carding a 63, the joint-best score on Friday along with that posted by German Macel Schneider, who opened with a 76.
Sullivan and Schneider were just shy of the best ever score at the Spanish Open, Wayne Riley’s 61 in 1988, and their low rounds ensured they made the cut, set at three-under-par.
(Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Ken Ferris)