January 30, 2011 | In: Articles
Log-jam at the top in Bahrain
Just one shot separates eight players at the top of the leaderboard at the halfway stage of the Volvo Golf Champions event in Bahrain.
Edoardo Molinari, Peter Hanson, Raphael Jacquelin and Miguel Angel Jimenez all share the lead on 11 under par after another birdie-fest at the Colin Montgomerie-designed layout.
Another four players – Darren Clarke, James Kingston, Paul Casey and Stephen Gallacher are a shot back with Francesco Molinari and first round leader Johan Edfors on nine under par.
The elder Molinari posted the early lead after a remarkable round of 65, which saw him birdie his first six holes after teeing off from the 10th.
The next 11 holes were all covered in par before a closing birdie at the ninth rounded off a fine day’s work for European Ryder Cup team’s talisman.
However, perhaps the story of the day came from Celtic Manor team-mate Jimenez, who matched his 65 despite breaking his putter in half midway through the round.
It mattered not to the Spaniard though, as he rolled in a hat-trick of birdie putts from the 15th with the blade of his sand wedge to join the leaders.
Swede Hanson picked up six shots in as many holes to briefly reach 12 under on his own before he gave a shot back at the 16th, while a similar burst from Casey saw him move to -11 before dropping a shot at the 17th after driving into water, having to chip-in for a bogey.
It was not all plain-sailing for the players though, with many struggling on the sloping greens.
Several were undone by late glitches to their rounds including Sergio Garcia, who double-bogeyed the tricky 15th and dropped another at the next before birdieing the final two holes to sit just three off the pace.
Italian prodigy Matteo Manassero got it to 10-under before a bogey at the 16th was followed by a costly seven at the penultimate hole, and although he recovered with a bogey at the last he now lies four behind.
There was joy for Montgomerie on his own course after he calmly rolled in a 10-footer on the final green to make the cut on three under par, although as it turned out the nine players on two-under also made it through to the weekend.
Monty is alongside Ian Poulter, who wishes he was somewhere else judging by his latest Tweet.
“School boy error playing,” he wrote. “Apparently the Architect wanted to make a statement with the greens. He did that alright.
“Simply the WORST greens I have ever seen & I’m not joking. They are embarrassing.”
The final two round will see the two-balls joined by amateurs in a unique pro-am conclusion to the event.