Friday, 13 May 2011
Chris Wood  (Getty Images)
Chris Wood (Getty Images)

Chris Wood holds a three shot lead at the halfway stage of the Iberdrola Open as the Englishman put himself on course for a maiden European Tour title in Mallorca.

Breezy conditions made for tough scoring at Pula GC, and the 23 year old - who has twice finished in the top five at The Open Championship - recorded a five under par 65 to advance to eight under.

Leading the chase are Wood's compatriot Matthew Nixon and Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke, who not surprisingly was enjoying the links-style conditions as he signed for a second round 70.

"You just have to keep it in play and think your way round a bit more," said Wood, who picked up six birdies before dropping his only shot at the 16th after his drive finished behind a tree.

"I am taking some holes on and being a bit more considered on others and it is working. I played lovely all day really but it's funny how it can change so quickly.

"I was cruising along and then came to 16 and that is not an easy tee shot. I was just trying to work the ball towards the bunkers on the right but ended up under a tree. I made bogey from there and then on 17 I hit a shot that had I played it a few hours beforehand would have been six feet from the pin but because the greens were firming up it bounced through the green. Not every shot is going to work out so I played nicely overall."

Wood has had 14 top-ten finishes on The European Tour, and the closest he came to winning was a play-off defeat in the Africa Open at the start of the current season.

"It will happen - I just need to keep putting myself in these positions," said Wood when asked about his long wait for a title. "The more that I can do that then the more chances I will have to win.

"It suits me this course. It can be tricky and you have to think your way round which is how I like to play golf - to try and be aggressive when I can and conservative when I have to. It is not a bombers course and it is only going to play shorter as the week goes on."

Clarke, who won the last of his 12 European Tour titles at the KLM Open in 2008, looked to be sliding out of contention when he started the day with an outward 38, but four birdies in six holes after the turn put him back on track.

There was another dropped shot when his tee shot found water at the 16th, but the former Ryder Cup star was satisfied with his day's work.

"I didn't play badly I just hit a few errant shots that, as I said earlier, put me in the wrong spots which you can't afford to do on this golf course," he said. "The wind turned on us on 16 and I hit my tee shot the wrong way so dropped one there but all in all I am pretty pleased, five under going into the weekend."

European Tour rookie Nixon, who was the only amateur to secure a card at last year's Qualifying School Final Stage, shot a level par 70 which included two double bogeys.

The 21 year old Englishman shot six birdies but two dropped shots at the par four third and par three 18th, the latter after hitting his tee shot into a bunker and three putting, prevented him getting closer to Wood.

"I think I'll be more dwelling in the fact that I am playing well and have a great chance over the weekend having missed the last two cuts," said Nixon when asked about his finish.

"I just have to go out there and give it 100 per cent and see what happens. There are scores to be made out there but if you hit a couple of lose ones then you can make a big number so hopefully I can keep it going and keep the mistakes off the card.

"There is work to do over the weekend and some great players in the field so I will keep my head down and see what it brings over the next couple of days."

Overnight leader Grégory Bourdy had a day to forget as a seven over par 77 sent him back to level par the day after he broke the course record.

Another Englishman, David Lynn, climbed into a share of fourth on four under with a second straight 68, and was joined by France's Thomas Levet, who matched Wood's best-of-the-day 65.

 

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1CLARKE, DarrenNIR18-6
T2LYNN, DavidENG18-3
T2WOOD, ChrisENG18-3
4FORSYTH, AlastairSCO18-2
T5LAWRIE, PaulSCO18-1
T5STORM, GraemeENG18-1
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