Friday, 16 August 2019
Edoardo Molinari  (Getty Images)
Edoardo Molinari (Getty Images)

Edoardo Molinari fired a second consecutive bogey free 66 to establish his first ever halfway lead on the European Tour at the D+D Real Czech Masters.

The Italian has had a brilliant career so far, claiming three European Tour titles and being part of winning teams at the Ryder Cup and the World Cup of Golf but he had never had a 36 hole lead before this week at Albatross Golf Resort.

His two blemish free opening rounds - the first time he has achieved that feat since the 2010 European Masters - moved the 38-year-old to 12 under, two shots clear of 2015 champion Thomas Pieters.

England's Sam Horsfield, Swede Robert Karlsson, Chilean Hugo Leon and Austrian Matthias Schwab were then at nine under.

Molinari had to regain his card at the Qualifying School in 2015 and 2016 before winning the 2017 Trophée Hassan II, and finished 127th on last season's Race to Dubai Rankings Presented by Rolex.

He has garnered some attention for seemingly using his hands to help him pick his aim point before his shots, and he credited both his degree in engineering and a change in equipment to his change in fortunes this season, with two individual top tens already secured.

"I'm definitely playing differently on the course, I'm giving myself lots of chances," he said. "Even today I could have made a few putts more and it's just the way it is at the minute.

"I'm playing very consistently, the equipment change helped me a lot at the beginning of the year.

"I'm picking my spots, there's a bit of engineering behind it, I've been doing it for a few months and it's definitely paying off.

"At the moment I'm very comfortable, I'm enjoying playing golf. I've been going through a tough few years so at the minute I'm just really enjoying myself on the golf course, I'm playing well so life is good at the minute."

Molinari started the day two shots off the lead but was three back after Karlsson set the clubhouse target at nine under after a 68.

A front nine of 34 with birdies at the first and fourth had Molinari within touching distance and when he hit a wonderful approach to six feet at the tenth, he was in a share of top spot.

Another excellent shot into the 14th moved him ahead and when he holed from 12 feet on the next, the lead was up to two.

Pieters cut the lead to one and set the target in the process as he finished with three birdies in a second consecutive 67.

The big hitting Belgian had made gains on the first and 11th before he sandwiched a 25 foot putt on the 17th with excellent approaches to the 16th and last to move right into contention.

But Molinari hit a stunner of his own into the 18th and extended the lead to two.

Karlsson made a hat-trick of gains from the second and while he gave a shot back on the eighth to turn in 34, he picked it back up on the 12th before birdieing the 17th.

Schwab fired the joint lowest round of the day with a 65 as the Austrian made birdies on the second, fifth, tenth, 11th, 12th, 14th and last.

Horsfield recovered from a bogey on the third with seven birdies, while Leon recorded an opening birdie and four in a row from the ninth to go with two bogeys.

Defending champion Andrea Pavan, Spaniard Adri Arnaus, Dane Joachim B Hansen, Scot Liam Johnston, Swede Rikard Karlberg, South African Jacques Kruyswijk and England's Lee Slattery were at eight under.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1PIETERS, ThomasBEL18-19
2ARNAUS, AdriESP18-18
T3PAVAN, AndreaITA18-16
T5SCHWAB, MatthiasAUT18-14

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