Friday, 26 May 2017
Thomas Pieters during the BMW PGA Championship  (Getty Images)
Thomas Pieters during the BMW PGA Championship (Getty Images)
Francesco Molinari produced a birdie-birdie finish to share the lead with Scott Jamieson and Thomas Pieters heading into the weekend after an enthralling opening two days of the BMW PGA Championship.

The Rolex Series has made its European Tour debut in spectacular style with the glorious conditions and bumper crowds matched only by the golf on show from an elite field at Wentworth Club.
 
Belgian Pieters set the target at seven under early in the day with a 69 but Scotsman Jamieson and Italian Molinari both fired rounds of 70 to join him, with an intimidating chasing pack gathering behind them.
 
German Maximilian Kieffer was then at six under, with Byeong-hun An, Branden Grace, Henrik Stenson and Lee Westwood in a group at five under with 41 European Tour wins between them.

Defending Italian Open champion Molinari was struggling to find his rhythm and was level par for the day as he stood on the 17th tee but found some late magic.

He took advantage of the first of the closing par fives and then hit a stunning second into the last to set up an eagle chance for the solo lead that he left just short.

"I just need to keep doing the same," he said. "I've been in position obviously a few times the last few years and it hasn't worked out.

"So I need to do the same stuff that I did yesterday and today, play it safe. Both days I didn't start too well but I managed to stay in the round and finish well. So it would be nice to start a little bit better at the weekend to make it a little easier on myself."

Earlier, Pieters bogeyed the third but picked the shot straight back up on the par five fourth and after a gain on the ninth, used his length again to take advantage of the 12th.

The par fives were proving a happy hunting ground and he holed from the back fringe of the 17th to take the outright lead.

"I hit a lot more greens today," he said. "I didn't make as many putts as yesterday but that's always going to happen. So I'm quite happy about today.

"I love this type of golf where you have to think a lot more, other than just start throwing darts at the flag."

Jamieson bogeyed the first and when he surrendered a double on the second, his round looked to be in serious trouble as he went birdie-bogey on the fourth and fifth.

A spectacular run of six birdies in seven holes then put him in the solo lead - with a near ace on the tenth - before a failure to get up and down from a bunker on the 15th dropped him back into a share.

"It's a tough stretch of the golf course, the first three holes, especially the way the wind was blowing today," he said. "The last thing you need to do in that situation is panic. Just try and take a wee minute to yourself and start again.

"It's obviously a massive tournament. That's why we play, so if I can just keep doing what I've been doing the first two days, hopefully I'm in a good place."

Kieffer also had a poor start, going bogey-bogey, but picked up seven shots in nine holes from the sixth before bogeying the 15th.
 
Grace and Stenson both birdied the last to get into red figures for the day while Westwood and 2015 champion An both recorded rounds of 69.
 
Overnight leader Johan Carlsson was also at five under after the Swede fired a one over par 73.

Andrew Dodt, Oliver Fisher, Graeme Storm and Jaco Van Zyl were then all three shots off the lead.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1NOREN, AlexSWE18-11
2MOLINARI, FrancescoITA18-9
T3COLSAERTS, NicolasBEL18-8
T3STENSON, HenrikSWE18-8
T3TANIHARA, HidetoJPN18-8
T6STORM, GraemeENG18-7

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