Friday, 19 May 2006

Ivó Giner is hopeful that the perfect marriage between his Catalan fighting spirit and considerable Spanish style that saw him win his battle with some wild conditions during the second round of the Telenet Trophy can continue over the weekend and lead him to the third European Challenge title of his career. Battling against howling winds and driving rain, the Spaniard added a second round of two under par 70 to his opening 66 to take a one stroke lead over Frenchman Francois Calmels at the Limburg Golf and Country Club.

Two over after six holes of his second round, Giner, who has been threatening to repeat his two Challenge Tour wins of 2003 with some fine performances over the past two months, discovered the golfing warrior within to fight back with a classic display of Spanish shot-making that yielded five birdies amidst the worst conditions of the day.

As the display tents surrounding the Limburg Golf and Country Club came into serious danger of being blown out of Belgium, Giner birdied the seventh, 11th, 13th, 15th and 18th to move into that one stroke lead over Calmels, who, tamed the winds with his own brand of Gallic flair with birdies on the 17th and 18th to post a hugely impressive second round 68.

Denmark’s Morten Hedegaard and England’s Denny Lucas, whose respective second round scores of four under 68 and three under 69 were also remarkable given the torrid conditions, are on six under, while Sweden’s Kalle Brink, Finland’s Toni Karjalainen, Welshman Mark Mouland, Christian Reimbold of Germany and the Englishman Sam Walker also kept themselves well in contention at five under.

Giner is close to capturing a similar frame of mind that took him to the Open des Volcans Challenge de France and the Golf Club Padova Terme Euganee International Open titles in a glorious three week spell in the summer of 2003, two victories that lifted him to 14th place on the final 2003 Rankings and won him a coveted place on The European Tour.

The 29 year old’s ability has never been in question, and, when he manages to marry that considerable skill with his fierce fighting spirit he is a formidable opponent.

“Today was not exactly my favourite weather – I think these conditions are more suited to the Scottish guys!” laughed Giner. “Standing on the first tee today I knew that it was going to be a tough battle and I knew that I was going to have to fight for my score today.

“When I get into that way of thinking I fight very well and enjoy that kind of battle. Maybe it is the Catalan in me that fights, and the Spanish that helps me make the shots I want. I feel good about my game just now – I have the feeling that I can play any shot. Today, if I had to fade it, draw it, or hit it high or low I did it without thinking about it, and that is when I am at my best.

“I have a lot of confidence, and the feeling that I can birdie every hole. Sometimes you look at a golf course and try to work out what holes you can go for birdies and what holes you would accept par, but I am feeling that I can just play and make birdies.

“Let’s hope it continues over the weekend. We are only halfway there and I know that two bad shots can take all of the confidence away, but I am not thinking that way for the moment. I have my focus, and I hope I can win again on the Challenge Tour”

Sixty-two players survived the level par halfway cut at the Limburg Golf and Country Club and will contest the €130,000 prize fund over the weekend.

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