Pablo Larrazabal continued his excellent form at the Open de France ALSTOM to establish a two stroke clubhouse lead over Lee Westwood and Peter Lawrie.
The Spaniard – inspired by his home country’s football performance in the Euro 2008 Championships on Thursday evening – was the first player to tee off on Friday morning and he took advantage of the unspoiled Golf National to post a second round score of one under par 70 for a halfway aggregate of seven under 135.
That was good enough to move two ahead of Westwood and Lawrie, whose respective scores of 68 and 71 took them to five under after 36 holes, with Paul Broadhurst, defending champion Graeme Storm and Søren Hansen moving to four under for the tournament.
With conditions at the Le Golf National toughening up with a strong breeze, Larrazabal was delighted with his second round score, despite dropping two shots over the difficult closing four holes.
“I started off a little tired because I was watching the match and I was a little nervous so made a bogey on the first,” said the 25 year old from Barcelona.
“Then I stared to play well and made birdies on the third and the fourth. Then, I don’t know why but I started to hit the ball badly. I don’t know why but I couldn’t keep the ball on the fairway, but my short game was incredible today and made a couple of great saves.
“ At the end of the round I was a little nervous when I looked at the leaderboard and I was four shots clear but I knew then that if I made one or two bogeys then it was still a good round and that I would have a chance of being in the last or second last group on Saturday.
“One under was a great round. To beat the course with that wind and the way that some of the pin positions were was still a great round.”
Westwood, whose third place finish at the US Open a fortnight ago has further boosted the Englishman’s confidence, was similarly pleased with his second round effort that saw him drop not a single stroke over one of The European Tour’s most mentally challenging golf courses.
“No bogeys is always good around here because there is trouble everywhere,” said the 35 year old. “My course management was great today, I hit some good drives…it could have been a bit better but all in all I am very pleased.
“Conditions were tougher today and my concentration pleased me more than anything because that could have been all over the place after the US Open and constantly being told ‘well played at the US Open etc. While that’s great and nice to hear, sometimes you just want to forget about it and concentrate on the French Open, which fortunately I have done.”