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Volvo China Open. Magical Mikko In Front by Three.

A magical round of -9 under par, 63 has put Mikko Ilonen three shots clear of the field at the Volvo China Open.

Mikko Ilonen  (Getty Images)

Mikko Ilonen / Getty Images

Mikko put together a stunning second round at the Binhai Lake Golf Course to give himself a three shot breathing space between himself and second placed Brett Rumford and Kiradech Aphibarnrat. Amazingly the two-time Tour winner managed to throw in a bogey on the round, at the 17th hole. Mikko now has a tournament total of -12 under par, with Brett and Kiradech sitting three behind on -9 under par.

Mikko reported that it had been a stress free round, with good putting being the key;

“I hit the ball better than yesterday, I gave myself a few more chances on the greens, especially on the back nine, and managed to take quite a few of them, so it was a very stress-free round today. I didn’t put myself in any trouble at all, which is always nice, and it’s nice to be three ahead going into the weekend. I’ve had a couple of other 63′s on the Tour before, but it’s difficult to compare. For example, I may have played better and only shot a 69. I’ve probably struck the ball better this year, but I don’t think I’ve putted better. It’s a good number of birdies definitely, I felt really good with my putter.”

Aussie Brett, who won last week, is enjoying his time in the limelight;

” This is a new week and another tournament. I feel good, my fitness is good and my energy levels feel nice and high, so hopefully I can ride the wave over the weekend and keep the good feelings going. It’s a nice feeling when you’re holing putts and seeing your name up near the top of the leaderboard. You’ve got to make the most of these moments when they come along, and I’m managing to do that at the minute.”

Thai Kiradech is full of confidence with his driver;

” My driver has done very well for the first two days, when you have the chance to hit it long and get on the greens in regulation then you have a good chance to do well. I think I made 17 greens today. I plan to play as much as I can in Europe this year. Winning in Malaysia gave me a lot of confidence, and I hope to keep that as I carry on this year. I will always try to do my best.”

The overnight leader of the tournament, Robert-Jan Derksen was a shot further back in fourth spot after a second round of -2 under par,70.  Spain’s Pablo Larrazábal and England’s Lee Slattery shared fifth place on -7 under par.

Missing the cut here at the Volvo China Open was the 12 year-old amateur Chinese player and Tour debutant Ye Wo-cheng, to his credit at +14 over par he was not the last player in the field. By complete contrast, sixteen year-old amateur Dou Ze-cheng not only made the cut, at -2 under par, but to the delight of the home crowd is the leading Chinese player in the Tournament.

BMW Italian Open, Rd1 Joel Sjoholm Leads

Sjöholm stars on opening day

                                                                Joel Sjoholm /Getty Images

Swede  Joel Sjoholm put behind him his last two tournaments with missed cuts, to lead the BMW Italian Open in Turin by one shot, his -8 under par opening round of 64 gave the 27-year-old that advantage. Joel said afterwards that he felt he could have played better;

” I want revenge, the last two weeks I actually played quite good golf. Normally when I score well, I have to putt well. The last few weeks I’ve putted quite poorly and missed the cut by one stroke. Both times I felt like I had a good chance to make the cut, but you have to forget and keep moving on. I hit it basically everywhere. I was in the woods a lot and made some funny birdies today. It was a big, fighting 64 rather than a solid 64, but it’s great fun to be eight under. I know that I have to play better golf tomorrow, I’m not going to make these sort of birdies four rounds in a row.”

Joel has a one shot lead over England’s Lee Slattery, whose opening effort of -7 under par 65 gave him second place on his own.                 Lee said he tends to play well on this course at  Royal Park I Roveri;

“It’s a place I always play well for some reason, I think I’ve had two 65s round here before. Last week in Holland, although it’s a great golf course, I tend to struggle on it, whereas this week I can see the shots. It’s nice to open the shoulders a little bit, which you can do here because the rough is not thick.”

Francesco Molinari’s -4 under par, 68 was the best score of those heading to The Ryder Cup in a fortnight’s time. Francesco was the 2006 winner of this event, and he was two shots better than German Martin Kaymer and Captain José María Olazábal, while Nicolas Colsaerts was a shot further back on one under.

“It’s fun playing in front of the home crowd, but there’s a lot of pressure and everyone wants you to do well. It would be nice to give them a nice week, but it’s quite tough. It was nice to spend some time together with Nicolas Colsaerts and Martin Kaymer and I’m sure we’ll have a lot of fun in America as well. We talked a little about a few things, but not too much.”

Handa Wales Open @ Celtic Manor, Ross Fisher Leads after 2nd round.

Ross Fisher  (Getty Images)

Ross Fisher (Getty Images)

Ross Fisher of England shot a -5 under par, 66, to lead the Handa Wales Open at Celtic Manor by two strokes from yesterday’s first round leader Lee Slattery. Lee had an ordinary second round of just par following his 66 yesterday, while Marcel Siem had an awful +4 over par, 75 after his good start in the first round with a 68.

Ross likes this course, he said in interview;

“It’s always nice to come back to good hunting ground, familiar turf. The Ryder Cup was a great experience, I played really well that week and enjoyed it. There are certain spots that you think, yeah, the pin was there in The Ryder Cup, or I hit it here and holed this putt, or hit that shot from here.  You do try and remember those memories, and feed them into a positive outcome for this week.  I have some fond memories and I’ve had some decent results here, but it’s a course that I feel should suit me.

He explained about his shot into the par three third;

” I hit a nice six iron below the hole to about 12 feet, 15 feet and made that. I actually felt like I was going to hole that because I think either I had that putt or Poults had that in The Ryder Cup, so I knew exactly where I was going to hit it. There was no way I was missing that one.”

Lee Slattery had an eagle on the eleventh hole, which helped him recover from a wobbly start to the second round;

“I think the eagle on 11 was  the turning point in the round. The swing certainly didn’t feel as good as yesterday. I hit a lot of shots left but just managed to bounce back well.”

Ross is now at -6 under par for the tournament, with Lee Slattery at -4. Still in the hunt are three players on -3 under par, the are; Fabrizio Zanotti of Paraguay, Jaidee Thongchai from Thailand and England’s Chris Wood. Another name in the frame after the first round Tim Sluiter from the Netherlands also had a poor second round, a +1 over par effort that leaves him with a tournament score of -2 under par.

Dutchman Tim Sluiter remained upbeat despite bogeying three of his last five holes.

“On this course, anything around par is a good score. I’m very pleased where I am, and I kept myself in it.”

Handa Wales Open @ Celtic Manor, Lee Slattery leads after 1st Round

Lee Slattery leads the Handa Wales Open at Celtic Manor after his opening round -4 under par ,67 on this par 71 layout in Wales. He leads by just one shot from Germany’s Marcel Siem and Tim Sluiter of the Netherlands. Marcel is the only German in the field this week and after a good start is in position to contend for the title. Strangely enough a Welshman has never won his National title, although they usually figure strongly in the event.

Alex Noren is bidding to make history by becoming the first player to successfully defend the ISPS Handa Wales Open, but at +10 for his opening round it is pretty safe to say he will not be around at the weekend.

Lee Slattery  (Getty Images)

Lee Slattery (Getty Images)

The thirty-three year old Lee Slattery’s performance comes just three days after shooting 66 at Walton Heath to earn himself a US Open Championship debut. Today he had only one dropped shot, but nobody got round unscathed, Lee  spoke of his day;

 “It was very difficult. The wind was stronger than anticipated and if you get round without a bogey it’s an amazing achievement.”

Lee is planning for a trip to San Francisco for the US Open;

I know Olympic Club is going to be difficult, but I’m really looking forward to it. It’s more the atmosphere. I remember The Open at Hoylake (his only previous Major was there in 2006) and I thrived on it.”

In-form German Marcel Siem,  who has already had five top-12 finishes this season and was in the lead going into the final round here two years ago, said:

“It was gusty, windy and there were firm greens, so three under was good.  It’s really nice to play out here. I love the course and I’ve had a lot of very good rounds here already. The greens are firm, which suits my high ball flight. You have to think a bit more around the course now because it’s a lot firmer and the traps are in play all of a sudden.”

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