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BMW PGA Championship. Francesco Molinari Leads at Wet Wentworth.

Francesco Molinari leads at the BMW PGA Championship after the conclusion of the second round at the Wentworth Club on the West Course.

Francesco Molinari   (Getty Images)

Francesco Molinari / Getty Images

On a wet and cold second day at Wentworth Francesco Molinari leads the BMW PGA Championship by just one shot after his second round of -4 under par, for a tournament total of -6 under par.

Francesco is happy to be at t he top, but is under no illusions as to how hard it will be to stay there on this difficult West course;

” I’m really happy with yesterday and today. The conditions were quite tough but I hit the ball well and the putter is working well so I am really happy at the moment. Six under is a good score given the conditions, I live over here now so I am used to it,  and I’m in a great position going into the weekend, but it’s a really tough course so anyone six or seven behind is still in it.”

Tied in second place is George Coetzee, at -5 under par, the South African has fared better than his compatriot James Kingston, who topped the leaderboard yesterday but collapsed today with a second round 77. Ten shots worse than his 66 of yesterday, he now has a tournament total of -1 under par.

Joining George at -5 under par are Alejandro Cañizares, Marc Warren and Mark Foster.

Lee Westwood is lurking at -3 under par and thinks he could be dangerous if his short game keeps improving, and his long game comes together;

 ” My short game’s been red-hot. I played some nice pitches and walking off the back of the 12th green, where I pitched to about four feet, Ernie said ‘Bit of a short-game wizard now.’ I also got up and down on 18 after hitting it in the hazard and those sorts of things can make a big difference to your week and going into the weekend with momentum. If my long game starts to come together, I could be dangerous.”

Lee’s Ryder Cup team-mate Luke Donald made a premature exit in his bid for a hat-trick of titles and fellow heroes of the Miracle at Medinah also made an early departure from The European Tour’s Flagship Event, with Rory McIlroy (75), Graeme McDowell (75), Ian Poulter (76) and Paul Lawrie (72) all joining Luke in missing the halfway cut.

Lee Westwood, World Number Three, heads back to France

Lee Westwood  (Getty Images)

World Number Three Lee Westwood (Getty Images)

World Number Three Lee Westwood returns to contest the Alstom Open de France next week in what appears to be one of the strongest fields in the history of this tournament.

Lee is seeking  back-to-back victories on European soil after capturing  his 22nd European Tour title in the Nordea Masters in Sweden at the start of the month, just before he achieved a top ten finish in the US Open Championship at Olympic Club. He has a strong record in the Alstom Open de France, with four top ten finishes in nine appearances. He really came close to winning this title at the Le Golf National in 2009, eventually losing in a play-off to Germany’s Martin Kaymer. Martin will  join Lee in the field next week, along with  four other players who currently occupy Ryder Cup spots, they are;

Race to Dubai leader Justin Rose, 2010 US Open Champion Graeme McDowell, Swede Peter Hanson and Spaniard Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño. Other players from the Worlds top fifty rankings are, Englishman Ian Poulter and Scotland’s Martin Laird, Graeme McDowell and European Ryder Cup Captain José María Olazábal, who was the 2001 champion in this tournament. There will also be an appearance from  Open Champion Darren Clarke, who is in a group of those players travelling from this week’s Irish Open at Royal Portrush Golf Club.

The defending champion is Frenchman Thomas Levet, the former Ryder Cup player who delighted the home support last year when he finished one shot clear of Dane Thorbjørn Olesen and Englishman Mark Foster to lift the trophy. The victory for Thomas came in front of packed galleries, just six weeks after Le Golf National was awarded The 2018 Ryder Cup.

I am a great fan of Thomas Levet, he used to pay at my club in Berkshire, England when I lived there. His son went to the same school as my grandson, and a more pleasant fellow and Professional golfer you could not wish to meet.

Victor Dubuisson leads Ballantines Championship in Seoul

Dubuisson stars in Korea

Victor Dubuisson (Getty Images

Victor Dubuisson leads the Ballantine’s Championship at Blackstone G.C. Seoul in South Korea. Play was suspended due to darkness and will resume tomorrow morning. None of the players still waiting to conclude their rounds can affect the top of the leaderboard standings. Victor had a good first round of -4 under par 68 and leads by two shots from Richie Ramsay, Mark Foster, Paul Casey, Jamie Donaldson and Ji-ho Jung.  All of these chasers had rounds of -2 under par for 70.

Victor was certainly very happy with his opening round, and looking for his first Europen Tour win;

“Very pleased with playing four under today.  My putting was really, really good today and I think it’s the only way to achieve good scoring in these conditions.  On the third hole the wind was from the left, and so on the fourth tee I thought the wind was going to be sort of left to right, but the wind was turning all the time.  The wind just turned right to left and it went into the water. So I was not really upset after this double bogey because I didn’t hit a bad shot.  I did my best to get back my concentration, and I made two birdies, good putts on five and six, and that was the good turn today.”

Only Victor and  England’s Paul Casey played in the more blustery afternoon conditions, of those at the top pf the board. Jamie Donaldson, Mark Foster, Jung Ji-ho and Richie Ramsay all took advantage of more benign morning conditions to move into contention.

Paul Casey knows he has the ability to contend here in Korea, in his quest to return to form after his snowboarding accident;

“I know if I play the golf I’m capable of, I’ve got a very good chance to win. The way I played today, I need to keep that form going, because there’s a long way to go.”

Jamie Donaldson rued bogeying the easiest hole on the course;

“I played nicely. It is tricky. I made a lot of good up and downs but overall a pretty tough day.  You’ve just got to put it in position off the tees and see where it falls. One of the easiest holes was 18, and I bogeyed. You have to play well and put it in position.”

Richie Ramsay said it was a tough day, even though he played in the quieter part of the day;

“I putted beautifully. The greens are really, really nice. It still is tricky because you get gusts of wind.  When I made a mistake, I got up and down and I managed to convert a few opportunities. All in all it was a good day, but it was really getting tough out there. There’s lots of positives from it, and I drove the ball well. But ultimately, I putted nicely, which is great to see and long may it continue.”

Mark Foster also commented on the wind;

“I’ve not seen any scores, but the wind is wicked. It is just all over. It’s not the strength of the wind, it’s funneling, and you just hit it out there and hope it does what you want. Ball flight is everything, really.”

Ji-ho Jung said of his round;

“My iron shots went very well. I had one bogey and three birdies, and the one bogey came from a three putt, so overall I thought the game went very well.”

Highest ranked player in the field, World Number 12 Adam Scott was with the bunch that included Ryder Cup stars Paul McGinley and Ross Fisher, they all finished  in 71 as just 17 players finished under par.

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