Molinari and Wilson move into contention

3/16/2012 1:28:08 PM
Edoardo Molinari  (Getty Images)
Edoardo Molinari (Getty Images)
Two European Ryder Cup stars made a welcome return to form during the second round of the Open de Andalucía Costa del Sol.

Italy’s Edoardo Molinari shot a best-of-the-day 65 and England’s Oliver Wilson a 67 as they closed to within two shots of Matteo Manassero, who was just teeing off again after his course-record equalling 64 in the opening round.

Molinari was a member of the winning Ryder Cup team two years ago, but has dropped to 88th in the Official World Golf Ranking and has been battling with a wrist injury.

“Today was much better than yesterday,” said Molinari. “I managed to finally hole some putts on the back nine and I hit the ball quite well from tee to green. It’s good to be in a decent position after such a long time.

“I know I still have to work hard to get where I know I can be. I’m still a long way away but I’m going in the right direction.”

Runner-up a staggering nine times and the first player to make Europe's Ryder Cup side without winning a tournament first, Wilson moved to two behind with his five under par round.

The 31 year old is playing on a sponsor's invitation after losing his European Tour card last year, having been ill for much of last season after drinking water with parasites in it.

Wilson finished just as Manassero was teeing off again, the Italian 18 year old's 64 having given him a three stroke overnight lead and he was not caught all morning.

Former Ryder Cup Swede Niclas Fasth was only one back from Manassero as well before bogeying the 12th and 13th, and Wilson was another to reach seven under as well, but he failed to get up and down from a greenside bunker on his final hole.

That left Spaniard Pablo Larrazabal alone in second place after he added a 69 to his first round of 68.

Alongside Wilson and Molinari on six under were France’s Raphaël Jacquelin (68) and Spain’s Edoardo de la Riva, who birdied the first hole of his second round.

“I didn’t hit the ball so well today but I holed some good putts,” said Jacquelin. “I made three birdies in a row from five to seven and no bogeys. The key was not to make big mistakes, which I owe to my 15 years experience on Tour. That’s why I managed to score quite well today.”

The four short holes were proving the toughest of the entire course and when Manassero came to the first of them, the 226 yard fourth, he bogeyed to drop back alongside Larrazábal.

“I played lovely,” said Wilson. “Yesterday I had a lot of chances and made nothing, but today it was nice to feel that I was starting the ball on line. 

“I made some good putts which got the momentum going, and on the back nine I started hitting some really nice shots, got a few tap ins, and made three birdies in a row which gets you close to the lead.

“It’s nice to be back in contention and prove myself and others that I can still play. I feel more equipped now in golf than I’ve ever been in my life.

“Miguel [Angel Jiménez] has been fantastic to give me an invite and I have two for the next couple of weeks. It means a lot to know that Miguel will look after me."

It was a case of what a difference a day makes as Manassero had his second bogey on the ninth and with an outward 38 went from three clear to two behind new leader de la Riva.

The World Number 610, given a place in the event off the Spanish Order of Merit, bogeyed the second, but birdied three of the next five and added another on the 11th.

He was one in front of Larrazábal and two ahead of Manassero, Molinari, Jacquelin and Wilson.

When de la Riva bogeyed the difficult short 17th, he fell into a three-way all-Spanish tie with Larrazábal and tournament host Jiménez, four under for the day with four to play.

Manassero dropped another shot at the 12th - he had to make a 22 foot putt to limit the damage to just one shot after a wild drive - and was down to joint ninth place, albeit only two off the pace.