SHANGHAI, China (AP) — France’s Raphael Jacquelin set a blistering pace on his way to a 4-under 67 and a two-stroke lead after the second round of the China Open on Friday.
Jacquelin birdied the first three holes and added two more on the front nine. He added one more birdie before faltering against the increasing wind, dropping two successive bogeys.
Jacquelin stood at 135 after two rounds, Australia’s Adam Blyth, who also had a second round 67 was second.
“I tried to make all the opportunities early on and tried to save pars like everyday,” said Jacquelin, the runner up at last month’s Estoril Open de Portugal. “Like yesterday, I made two bogeys at the end but that is the game, especially on this course in these conditions.”
Andres Romero of Argentina and Australian Scott Hend also had rounds of 67 to share third place, while Simon Yates of Scotland fired a 66 to finish the day one stroke back.
Blyth spread his six birdies and two bogeys evenly between the front and back nines. Three birdies on his final five holes allowed him to give Hend and Romero the slip and take sole second place.
“Now, I want to enjoy the ride over the weekend,” Blyth said. “It’s a nice position to be in so I hope to have fun and stay positive, so we’ll see how it goes.”
Graeme McDowell (70) and Damien McGrane (69) of Northern Ireland, Sweden’s Christopher Hanell (70) and Markus Brier of Australia (68) shared sixth place with 140 at the Shanghai Silport Golf Club’s 7,073-yard course.
China’s Huang Mingjie, who shared the overnight lead with Jacquelin, fell back to joint-25th after a round of five-over 76.
Last year’s winner Jeev Milkha Singh is not defending his title, having elected to stay in the United States following his debut at the Masters.
Golfers from less than 40 nations are competing at this year’s Open, co-sanctioned by the European and Asian Tours, vying for a purse of $2 million, including $333,390 for the winner.