Argentinian golfer Mauricio Molina equalled the course record at Los Encinos Country Club with an eight under par 64 to take a one shot lead on eight under par 136 at the halfway stage of the American Express Los Encinos Open.
The 36 year old, who has a history of low scoring and once shot 59 in an Argentine Tour event, held sway over first round pacesetter Pedro Martinez of Paraguay and his fellow countryman Miguel Fernandez, who finished on 137 after respective rounds of 70 and 65.
Three twos on the three front nine par threes alongside birdies at the two par fives
added up to 31 and laid the foundations for Molina’s excellent effort. “My irons were the key to the round,” he said.
“I hit the ball really close to the pins all day. All my birdies came from short putts, and three times it was within inches of the hole. The bonus came on the ninth, where I holed my first long putt of the day, about thirty feet, for birdie. All in all it was very satisfying."
Low-scores came thick and fast during the entire day, with joint second placed Fernandez, a two-time winner of the Argentine Open but who in recent years
has suffered from a lack of confidence on the greens, who carded a 65, one of the best.
The Argentine got off to a glorious start - eagle, birdie, par, par, birdie – and said: “I have played well both days, although I'm not really driving that well. The difference today was that the putts I missed yesterday were the ones I holed today.
“I hit my irons very well, and most of my birdies came from short putts but on these greens nothing, even the shortest putt can be taken for granted. But it's been getting better in recent months and today was very rewarding."
Alongside him, Martinez said of his 70: "The greens are very difficult, lots of movement, and I did not have everything going my way. But the good news is I'm still hitting the ball well, so I have great hopes for the final rounds."
The European Challenge Tour challenge was spearheaded by three players in a group tied for fourth place on six under par 138, Germany’s Kariem Baraka, Italy’s Massimo Florioli and James Hepworth of England.
But there was bad news for Sweden’s Björn Pettersson, who shared the first round lead with Martinez after his 67, but who slumped to a second round 79 to miss the cut by two strokes.