Friday, 29 October 2010
Niclas Fasth  (Getty Images)
Niclas Fasth (Getty Images)

Niclas Fasth roared into contention at the Andalucia Valderrama Masters with a glorious second round of 66.

The 38 year old Swede, a Ryder Cup winner in 2002, picked up three shots in his opening six holes and added further birdies at the 16th and 17th holes to move level with Northern Irish duo Graeme McDowell and Gareth Maybin at the top of the leaderboard.

Fasth has had three top ten finishes this season - the most recent coming at The Celtic Manor Wales Open in June - but will now have his sights set on a first win since his BMW International Open success in 2007.

He said: "It is a lovely score. I am very pleased and somewhat surprised because my game is not so solid, but my putting and my short game were sensational.

"On this course you need to have a good short game even if you are in great form.

"I have had another tough season this year, but it’s getting better at the end and here I have found a bit of spark, a bit of energy."

McDowell remained on his overnight score of three under after nine holes of his second round, boosting his chances of closing the gap on runaway Race to Dubai leader - and playing partner - Martin Kaymer, who stayed one over through the turn.

US Open champion McDowell - who is Kaymer’s closest rival heading into the closing weeks of the season - picked up birdies at the first and eighth holes, with his dropped shots coming at five and nine.

Maybin, meanwhile, recorded two birdies and one bogey in his opening 14 holes to keep himself firmly in the mix for a maiden European Tour title.

Miguel Angel Jimenez was one of three players a shot further back in fourth after mixing six birdies with five bogeys in an eventful round of 70.

Also on two under were England’s Gary Boyd, who birdied the fourth and tenth, and Italian Francesco Molinari - one under through his front nine.

Jean-Baptiste Gonnet birdied four of his first five holes to join the group at one under, which included Damien McGrane, Peter Hedblom and Raphael Jacquelin.

Darren Clarke was another player under par after an impressive front nine of 33, along with Robert-Jan Derksen, who reached three under at one stage before hitting the buffers with three bogeys in four holes from the 13th.

Kaymer twice got to one under for the day (and level par for the tournament) with birdies at four and seven, but bogeys at six and nine stunted his progress.

He was joined on one over by overnight leader Pablo Larrazabal, who followed his wonderful first round 66 with a somewhat less impressive 77.

Sergio Garcia also reached the clubhouse with a halfway score of 143, but he was keen to look at the positives after his second round 73.

"It's been my first cut in nearly three months and I feel more comfortable with my game," he said.

"I could have had a couple of shots less, but I am satisfied. I must go step by step gaining confidence."

The likes of Jose Maria Olazabal, Oliver Wilson and Peter Lawrie were among those battling to make the weekend, with the projected cut at four over.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1MCDOWELL, GraemeNIR18-3
T2KJELDSEN, SørenDEN18-1
T2MCGRANE, DamienIRL18-1
T2MAYBIN, GarethNIR18-1
T5LUITEN, JoostNED18Par
T5BJÖRN, ThomasDEN18Par
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