Edoardo Molinari (Getty Images)
Italian Edoardo Molinari put himself in pole position to repeat his 2007 triumph by taking a one shot lead at the halfway point of the Club Colombia Masters presentado por Samsung.
The former US Amateur Champion is back on the European Challenge Tour having struggled to find consistency on The European Tour last season but he showed his undoubted talent by reaching the turn at Country Club de Bogotá in just 31 shots after five birdies on the front nine.
Molinari then bogeyed the tenth hole but picked up another shot on the 13th hole to sign for a round of 67 and move to eight under par for the first tournament of the new Challenge Tour campaign.
The elder brother of 2006 Italian Open champion Francesco finished 16th on the 2007 Challenge Tour Rankings after winning twice, in Colombia, where he defeated home favourite Gustavo Mendoza in a play-off, and at the Tusker Kenya Open.
He is now eyeing a swift return to The European Tour and has made a strong start in his quest, moving a stroke clear of Argentine Mauricio Molina, with France’s Jean Billot and Denmark’s Soren Juul a further shot back on six under par.
“I’m delighted about the way I played today. I really enjoy playing this course,” said the 28 year old. “I played extremely well on the front nine. On the back I missed a couple of shots, but I still had several birdie chances.
“Just as there was two years ago, there are many good players competing here this week. For now I just need to focus on my game and we’ll see if that is good enough come Sunday night.”
Juul fired a superb 67, carding six birdies and just the single bogey on his penultimate hole to erase the memory of dropping two strokes in the final four holes of his first round.
“I messed up a bit at the end of my round yesterday so it was nice to get off to a great start,” said Juul. “The altitude meant that I was playing two clubs less yesterday and I struggled a bit but the rain today meant that it was down to about half a club.
“It has been difficult to get close to the pin but I picked the right clubs today. I remembered my rhythm more today.”
Juul is seeking an improvement this season after finishing 84th on the Challenge Tour Rankings in 2008, despite finishing tied runner up behind David Horsey in the Telenet Trophy and tied ninth in the Inteco Russian Open Golf Championship 2008.
He has been working James Petts, the coach of Ryder Cup player and fellow Dane Søren Hansen, and feels his game is in the right shape to contend more during the new season.
“I’ve had a good winter and I’ve been working with James for a year now so hopefully it will be a good year,” he said. “James keeps it very simple - he doesn’t get too scientific. I had a bad category last year but played quite well and got a better one so I should have more starts this year. I’m feeling good about my game and felt confident coming here.”