Miguel Angel Jiménez gave himself a superb chance of picking up his fourth European Tour title of 2004 when he moved into a one shot lead at the halfway stage of the BMW International Open at Golfclub München Nord-Eichenried.
With his place in the Ryder Cup Team already secured and therefore free of the tension which is gripping his fellow Europeans not yet assured of a spot in Bernhard Langer’s 12, the Spaniard showed how relaxed he was with a superb and flawless second round 66.
It gave Jiménez a ten under par total of 134 and a one shot lead over Retief Goosen and David Lynn, with Markus Brier of Austria and Fredrik Jacobson of Sweden in a share of fourth on eight under par 136.
“Normally when you are playing well you tend to keep it going because you know you are playing on the same level,” said the Spaniard. “The better you play, the more confident you feel and I hope to keep this going until the end of the year.”
Certainly if he keeps up the form of the second round he will be difficult to catch over the weekend, being one of the few players not to shed a shot to the Munich course all day, his only departures from par being three birdies on the front nine and three further on the back nine.
One player one shot adrift of Jiménez was David Lynn, who continued the form which saw him win The KLM Open in The Netherlands on his last European Tour outing, the Englishman carding a fine 68.
Ironically, Lynn’s position at the head of affairs was all the more impressive as his round began with a bogey five at his opening hole, the 472 yard tenth. But after that he was flawless, rattling in five birdies along the way for good measure.
“Every time you go out and feature near the lead in a tournament it is very pleasing but especially coming off since I won in Holland,” he said. “I feel like there is a little bit more pressure this week in my own mind.
“There are a lot of players coming up to me and giving me congratulations and my name is probably one everybody was looking for this week. So to come out and play like that in the first couple of rounds is very pleasing.”
One player everyone always expects to be up amongst the leaders every time he tees up is current US Open Champion Retief Goosen and the South African lived up to his reputation again, even though his second round 69 did not offer quite the same fireworks as his opening 66.
“Yesterday everything went and today I was a bit off my game and when you haven’t played for a while, to try and find it is difficult,” he said. “But I came back okay and nine under, only one behind, I am not complaining.”
Naturally, aside from who will win the BMW International Open, the talk all around the Munich course is who will qualify for the Ryder Cup Team and one of the people trying to force his way into automatic selection is Fredrik Jacobson, who gave himself a great chance with a fine second round.
The Swede forced himself into contention with a fine second round 65, the highlight of which was a superb pitch in from off the green for an eagle three at the 18th hole, his ninth of the day, having started at the tenth. Like Jimenez, Jacobson did not shed a shot all day and picked up five other birdies.
“I haven’t counted exactly what I need to do, I will leave that up to other people but I think to make it automatically into the team, I think at least I would at least need to finish in the top three here so I have given myself a good chance,” he said.
Jacobson finished alongside Marcus Brier on eight under par, the Austrian also not dropping a shot in his 65 and birdieing the last to ensure his lofty position.
In terms of The Ryder Cup automatic qualification, two players in with a chance at the start of the week did reach the end of the road, Jean-Francois Remesy and Brian Davis, who both missed the cut which fell at level par 144.
With Thomas Levet’s position in sixth place unassailable, it leaves a straight fight over the weekend between the four players currently occupying the automatic places – Paul Casey, David Howell, Ian Poulter and Paul McGinley – to hang on to those places and repell the advances of the remaining chasing pack – Joakim Haeggman, Jacobson, Raphael Jacquelin and Graeme McDowell.
It proves to be an interesting weekend and, when the machinations of who will also receive Bernhard Langer’s two wild card selections on Sunday night are thrown into the mix, it promises to be one of the most exciting weekends of the season on The European Tour.