Friday, 07 February 2014
Edoardo Molinari  (Getty Images)
Edoardo Molinari (Getty Images)
Edoardo Molinari feels his game is in a good place as the Italian continued his return to form by claiming a share of the halfway lead at the Joburg Open.

The 32 year old has been plagued by injury problems since making his Ryder Cup debut alongside brother Francesco in 2010, slipping from the Official World Golf Ranking’s top 20 to World Number 220 as a result.

However, having finished inside the top ten in Dubai last week, the former US Amateur Champion is once more impressing in South Africa as a second round 68 left him tied at the top of the leaderboard with Scotland’s Craig Lee on 11 under par.

“It was another very good round of golf, and I hit the ball very well,” said Molinari, who carded four birdies over the Royal Johannesburg & Kensington West Course following a 64 on the easier East lay-out yesterday; the field have played both courses over the first two days and will now revert to the East Course for the weekend.

“Maybe not as well as yesterday, but I gave myself a lot of chances, which is what you have to do around the East Course. I am very pleased with four under today.

“You just have to play your best. There are a few less birdie chances on the East Course, but all of the par fives are reachable, so you can make a good score.

“I think I drove the ball really well. I’ve been driving the ball like that for the last few months and it’s making a big difference, because I am hitting a couple of clubs less than I am used to and most times I am on the fairway.

“It’s still two rounds to go, but I like the way I am hitting the ball. I made a few putts today, but the most important thing is to keep hitting the ball like this.

“I’m very happy with pretty much everything. I am very happy with my position and my game right now.”

Lee made 67 on the West Course, having impressed with a 65 on the East set-up on day one, as he chases a maiden European Tour title.

“The goal was to not fall back and there’s a strong field behind you, so it was important that I didn’t slip back,” said Lee, who had missed the cut on his last five visits to South Africa. “I had a pretty good chance early on to distance myself from the rest of the field, but I didn’t really capitalise on the back nine.”

England’s David Horsey and home favourite George Coetzee share third on ten under, and the former was delighted with his work on the greens after an eight under par 63 on the West Course.

The two-time European Tour winner had six unanswered birdies over his opening 14 holes, and rolled in a five footer at the 15th and 30 foot effort at the next to complete his scoring in a flawless round.

“The conditions were a bit breezier than yesterday, but they were made for scoring out there today,” he said. “I’m very pleased with the day’s work. I was a little bit more aggressive, but I made a whole lot of putts and that was it, hey presto!

Horsey, like the majority of the field, is chasing not only the €206,050 first prize but also one of three Open Championship places on offer for to those not already exempt and finishing in the top ten.

“It’s an added bonus,” he added. “I think it’s a good system, a good change from the R&A to do that. It makes the qualifying a bit fairer and spreads it out over a longer period rather than making it a 36-hole sprint. It’s at the back of my mind at the moment, but it’s certainly a bonus to consider near the end of the week.”

Coetzee has had 24 top-ten finishes on The European Tour, but is hoping to land his first victory on home soil this weekend.

"I know what to expect and tomorrow I’ll try to stay patient and make a few putts on the way home,” he said.”

Seven players sit two shots from the top of a congested leaderboard, with Finland’s Roope Kakko most prominent after a brilliant eight under par 64 on the tricky East Course that featured a chip-in birdie on the 14th.


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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1COETZEE, GeorgeRSA18-19
T2HATTON, TyrrellENG18-16
T2JEONG, JinKOR18-16
T2WALTERS, JustinRSA18-16
T5QUIROS, AlvaroESP18-15

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