Lafeber leads in Portugal

10/15/2010 7:01:40 PM
Maarten Lafeber  (Getty Images)
Maarten Lafeber (Getty Images)
Maarten Lafeber moved into a two shot lead at the halfway stage of the Portugal Masters with a five under par 67.

The Dutchman moved to 13 under par at Oceanico Victoria Golf Course thanks largely to a flying start that saw him card three birdies and an eagle in his first six holes – his sand wedge approach to the par four second spinning back into the cup for a two.

A bogey at the eighth temporarily checked his progress, before further gains at the tenth and 12th saw him pull three clear of the field.

However that advantage was reduced to two shots when the 35 year old found water at the par five 17th and bogeyed.

"I knew it was going to be a bit easy today," said Lafeber. "I know from the last few years that it's a golf course that you can make quite a lot of birdies, and I did that, especially yesterday, a lot of birdies and today I got off to a great start, so I'm really happy with how I'm playing."

At 100th on The Race to Dubai Lafeber has secured his playing card for next season, but still harbours ambitions of moving into the top 60 in time to feature at the Dubai World Championship in November.

"It's been a long year, but my dad has been seriously ill and we had our second baby, so a lot has been going on this year," he added.

"I've been very consistent this year. I've only missed three cuts, but I haven't had four good rounds. I just kept on working hard and I found my putting touch the last couple of weeks and it shows.

"Obviously I want to finish high and I feel like I should be a lot higher in The Race to Dubai. Hopefully in the next few weeks I can still pull it off to get to Dubai and that would be great."

The former Dutch Open winner has Finland's Mikko Ilonen as his nearest challenger after the twice European Tour winner added a 68 to his opening 65.

Both Ilonen's European Tour wins came in 2007 and he is eager to add another victory in the Algarve this week.

"You think of getting back to the winner's category and that's been one of my goals for this year," he said.

"I've been knocking on the door a few times this year, playing in the last group in China, didn't quite finish it off. But you know, it's been better the last year, anyway."

France's Raphaël Jacquelin shares third on ten under after a second consecutive 67, and was joined by Portugal's José Filipe Lima, who signed for an impressive 64.

Challenge Tour graduate Lima has a double incentive this week – not only is he competing on home soil but victory would secure his card for next season, something that had seemed improbable at the start of the week given his position of 180th on The Race to Dubai.

“It was fantastic, probably the same about yesterday, about the long game,” he said. “I don't miss any putts and holed two good ones, and that's more confidence on the putts. 

“I'm quite happy about my game, because yesterday, I said if I stay with the same game today, maybe I can do something, and the game was there. My driving was there, that's why I'm quite happy about that.

“I’ll try to do my best.  If nothing happens, I'll go to Q School and do my best over there.”

That was not the best round of the day, however, with Italian Ryder Cup star Francesco Molinari recording the best round of his professional career, a ten under par 62, to move to eight under for the week.