A brilliant chip-in birdie three from the greenside bunker at Le Golf National’s notorious 18th hole helped David Lynn into a share of the Open de France ALSTOM lead with Pablo Larrazabal, while star names Cabrera, Montgomerie and Westwood all moved into contention to set-up a brilliant weekend’s golf.
If the weekend action can emulate the thrills and spills of the second round in Versailles, the 2008 Open de France ALSTOM will be unforgettable.
Larrazabal, the first round leader, set the tone for the day as he struck the first tee shot off the day. Inspired by his home country’s football performance in the Euro 2008 Championships on Thursday evening, the young Spaniard posted a one under par 70 to set the clubhouse lead of seven under par 135 that only Lynn could match with his superb bunker shot on the last green as the sun set over Versailles.
In between the leaders, Cabrera, Montgomerie and Westwood all strutted their stuff to move within two strokes of the leaders on five under, alongside Ignacio Garrido and Peter Lawrie, while defending champion Graeme Storm joined Paul Broadhurst, Søren Hansen and Shiv Kapur on four under and within striking distance of the oldest National Open on continental Europe.
Kapur provided another of the day’s highlights with his superb eight under par 63. Starting the day with a bogey to fall back to five over par and in serious danger of missing the halfway cut, the Indian produced a marvellous performance to pick up ten shots in 14 holes to give himself a realistic chance of winning the tournament.
“I’m going to have to change my mindset for the weekend now!,” smiled Kapur, “I thought I was going home after going back to five over after the first today.”
Larrazabal was never worried about missing the cut. After that outstanding opening score, the 25 year old was pleased to consolidate his position.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
Lynn, meanwhile, now fully recovered from damaging his inter-costal muscles just over a month ago,
“I played well yesterday and was so frustrated when I made a double bogey seven on the ninth – my finishing hole – I wasn’t happy at all but I knew that I was playing well. It was tricky today when we started because the wind was around but that died off on the last hole and I got my score going. I am right in it now and it’s all to play for over the weekend.”
Indeed it is all to play for – a fact that Cabrera, Montgomerie and Westwood know only too well.
Cabrera said: “I feel good overall. I missed the drive on the 17th and made a double bogey but that’s not a problem. We are only halfway. I feel good about the weekend – if I can continue to hit the ball like I have done yesterday and today then I have a great chance.”
Montgomerie’s second round score could have been at least six shots better had he been able to take his chances, but two vintage Montgomerie approached on the 17th and 18th holes salvaged the Scot’s increasing desperation to put him in determined spirits for the final 36 holes.
“The way that I hit the ball today and then to miss everything was unbelievable,” said Montgomerie. “Then I hit a great five iron to four feet and then a fantastic eight iron into the last which was a great effort.
“It’s only - I hate to say deserved – but that’s the very minimum that was deserved. That was as good as I can play from tee to green. I have hit 33 greens in regulation out of 36 round here which is back to the way that I used to play and win tournaments – through lack of mistakes. It wasn’t the amount of putts that I holes it was the amount of mistakes I didn’t make. That’s good, that’s the way that I like to play golf.”
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."