Friday, 11 May 2018
Lucas Bjerregaard  (Getty Images)
Lucas Bjerregaard (Getty Images)

Lucas Bjerregaard and Julien Guerrier shared the halfway lead at the Rocco Forte Sicilian Open after another wild and windy day at Verdura Golf Club.

Dane Bjerregaard entered round two in a share of the lead but Frenchman Guerrier was the only player to stay bogey-free over two days as he carded a 65 to get to nine under.

The heavy winds made it difficult for the afternoon starters but Bjerregaard produced some stunning golf after the turn to get to ten under before a bogey on the 16th dropped him back into a share of top spot after a 68.

Steven Brown and Ryan Evans were then at eight under, a shot clear of Mike Lorenzo-Vera who carded the lowest round of the week with a 64.

Guerrier regained his playing privileges via the Challenge Tour last season after graduating from the Qualifying School in 2009 and 2011 and is already on course for his best season on the European Tour.

His third-place finish at the NBO Oman Open was his best result since the 2014 Madeira Islands Open – Portugal – BPI and one of two top tens this season as he goes in search of a first European Tour victory.

"I'm playing really good," said the two-time Challenge Tour winner. "I made no bogeys so, in these conditions, in two rounds, to make no bogeys is really good.

"I come from La Rochelle, its very windy so I think it helped me a lot. I also won the Amateur Championship so I think I like the windy conditions but it's just two rounds. There are two more rounds so the road is long."

Evans made a fast start with birdies on the second and third but gave the shots back on the fourth and sixth before making further gains on the seventh and ninth.

Fellow Challenge Tour graduate Brown made birdies on the 12th, 14th and second and, when he added back-to-back gains on the fourth and fifth, he was in a share of the lead.

Evans played the back nine in level par with two birdies and two bogeys, while Brown bogeyed the eighth and birded the ninth as the English duo set the target but they would soon be passed by Guerrier.

The 32 year old sandwiched an eagle on the second with birdies on the 12th and third and, after three pars in a row, he hit an excellent tee-shot into the very windy par three seventh and joined the lead.

A birdie on the par five ninth edged Guerrier into top spot on his own before Bjerreaard made his move in the afternoon.

The 26 year old bogeyed the third but got the stroke back on the fifth and a lovely putt from the fringe on the ninth helped set up a gain. A huge drive on the 11th and a nice up-and-down on the 12th had him in a share and when he also birdied the 14th, he was the first man into double-figures.

A wonderful up-and-down from the right side of the 15th kept him there but he could not repeat the trick from the sand on the next and the lead was once again shared.

"It feels good, it was a battle out there," said the Portugal Masters champion. "It was tough, everything from hitting the fairway to five-foot putts are really tough so I'm very happy with my game today. I kept it in play pretty good, not too many hiccups, chipping and putting was alright.

"It feels like this is a place where a lot can happen, there's a lot of golf left but I'm gaining confidence every day I'm playing like this. It's not been great so far this year but I'm starting to play a bit better and I'm just taking it all in and gaining a lot of confidence. Hopefully I can keep doing that this week."

Frenchman Lorenzo-Vera birdied on the 13th and then made five in six holes from the 16th, including a stunning approach into the wind on the third. Another smart second into the difficult sixth brought a seventh gain of the day and while he made the most of the ninth, he closed with a bogey.

Joakim Lagergren recently finished in a tie for third at the Trophée Hassan II and he was five under for the day through nine holes after birdies on the 11th, 12th, 14th, 16th and 17th. Another birdie on the third edged the Swede closer to the lead but he got in trouble down the left and dropped a shot on the tenth that left him five under.

Home duo Francesco Laporta and Andrea Pavan were then at four under alongside English pair Paul Waring and Steve Webster.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1LAGERGREN, JoakimSWE18-16
T3HERBERT, LucasAUS18-15
6GUERRIER, JulienFRA18-13

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