The Imperial Collection Russian Open is shaping up for a thrilling weekend at Le Meridien Moscow Country Club, Scotland’s David Drysdale tied for the lead on 12 under par alongside the Spanish duo of Carlos Rodiles and Francisco Valera, with defending champion Mikael Lundberg lurking with serious intent just three shots back going into the final 36 holes.
Alongside Lundberg is the man he defeated at the fourth extra hole of a sudden-death play-off last year, Englishman Andrew Butterfield, as well as Irishman Gary Murphy.
In between that trio and the three leaders are Spain’s Alejandro Canizares – the son of former Ryder Cup player José Maria and brother of Challenge Tour player Gabriel – on 11 under par and the South African James Kingston on ten under.
It was a day of mixed emotions for first round leader Drysdale, who posted a second round 70. The Scot was clearly disappointed not follow his outstanding ten under par first round 62 with a low scoring second day effort, but was the first person to acknowledge how difficult that task can be.
“You very rarely see someone having a great score on the first day of a tournament and then another great score on the second day,” said Drysdale. “Not many people go out and shoot nine or ten under in the first round and then repeat that the next day. Unless your name is Tiger Woods, it is quite difficult to do that.
“I think I’m disappointed because I know this golf course so well and today’s round felt worse than it actually was. It’s still all to play for over the weekend so I am quite happy with that. That’s what we are playing for. If you are in with a chance over the last nine holes on Sunday afternoon then you are happy.”
Despite a bogey-bogey finish, Rodiles was similarly philosophical to his co-leader. The 31 year old from Malaga, who carded a second round 69, feels that he has finally recaptured the form that took him to 24th place on The 2003 European Tour Order of Merit.
“I am hitting the ball well but the thing is that when you are playing that well you should not be giving so many shots away,” he said.
“I made three bogeys today and at least two of them should not have happened. But, having said that, if I can keep hitting the ball the way I have been over the weekend then I can still shoot low numbers. I just have to work on the putting and keep going.”
Valera posted a 67 to join Drysdale and Rodiles at the top of the Imperial Collection Russian open leaderboard and is now hopeful of beating the best European Tour result of his career, a seventh place finish at the Deutsche Bank TPC Open of Europe ten years ago.
“That was a long time ago,” smiled Valera. “I had a lot more hair then! It feels great to be back in this position. I just have to keep going and keep learning because you never stop learning in this game.”
Lundberg stands out as one of the main threats to the leaders given his obvious pedigree around the magnificent Robert Trent Jones Jnr designed course at Le Meridien Moscow Country Club.
The Swede opened the defence of is title with round of 68-67 to lie just three off the lead, and is exuding confidence.
“I feel like I can’t shoot over par around this golf course which is a great feeling to have. I just wish I felt like that every week! I don’t know why that is - if I knew what it was then I would take it every week, but it is just the way I feel when I come here. I feel great on this course and I always play well here.”