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Gunner Wiebe leads after mastering 'really tough' conditions

Gunner Wiebe leads after mastering 'really tough' conditions

Gunner Wiebe enjoyed a remarkable return to form to hold the halfway lead at the Italian Open presented by Regione Emilia-Romagna.

Gunner Wiebe

The 35-year-old American was a runner-up at the 2023 Betfred British Masters presented by Sir Nick Faldo but in 12 months since then had made only seven cuts on the DP World Tour with a best finish tied for 41st.

Three birdies and a single bogey saw Wiebe card a second round of 69 in Milano Marittima to reach nine under for the week.

That was one clear of German Jannik de Bruyn, who made the most of his late entrance into the field to card a second straight 67 to lie second.

Denmark's Sebastian Friedrichsen, Sweden's Marcus Kinhult, Spain's Adrian Otaegui and South African Brandon Stone were a shot further back on seven under.

Starting on the back nine, Wiebe made a birdie from close range at the par-five 15th but gave it back two holes later when he missed the green off the tee at the par three.

Wiebe made gains from nine feet at the first and tap-in range on the fifth after a superb approach but admitted he will need to continue to stay focused over the weekend in order to land a first DP World Tour title.

“I don’t think any of us had the chance to play boring,” he said. “The conditions were really tough.

“The course is starting to firm up quite a bit. You just have to pay attention. There’s not really a shot where you can - I don’t want to say mail it in – but you have to be on your mental side from the get-go with how tricky the wind was.

“Arguably, I might have played better today than yesterday. You can judge by score, sure, but I think the way I played today was a bit sharper.

“I think the heat makes the ball go a lot farther. Throughout the day we were almost half a club less than we would normally be with the ball sailing, and if you catch it downwind you might hit it 15 or 20 yards farther with a mid-iron. It’s kind of like playing at elevation.

“We’re going to have to survive the heat, because it’s definitely warm. Coming off of where we’ve been where it seems like it has rained and been cold all year, it’s a nice reprieve. But it’s hot, it’s definitely hot.

“I think if you get off in the morning, some of the guys that have an earlier time tomorrow, with the wind down, there might some chances to get out and score. If the weather maintains and the wind stays up, I think you’ll see a pretty condensed leaderboard and probably a lot of guys who will have a chance.

“Whether it’s me or somebody else, someone is going to have to play very good the last two rounds to hold the trophy.”

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