June 29, 2019: Christiaan Bezuidenhout mastered the tougher conditions on day two to take a commanding four shot lead into the weekend at the Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters hosted by the Sergio Garcia Foundation.
India’s Gaganjeet Bhullar shot par 71 in the second round. He carded three birdies and three bogeys to finish the second round with even par 71 and lying five shots behind the lead at the third position in the tied sixth place.
The fearsome Real Club Valderrama had proved scoreable in round one as Bezuidenhout registered a 66 but firmer greens and higher winds made it a different proposition on Friday.
The South African carded a 68 in the morning to get to eight under and with conditions getting even tougher in the afternoon, tournament host Sergio Garcia, fellow home favourites Adri Arnaus and Alvaro Quiros, and Welshman Bradley Dredge emerged as the closest challengers.
Quiros had carded a 68 in the morning and Garcia battled to an afternoon 72 to keep himself right in the mix to win this event for the third consecutive season.
Garcia also has a victory at this event in 2011 and ten other top tens from 14 appearances at Valderrama and he delighted the home fans on the ninth as he chipped in for a birdie to go with two other gains and four bogeys.
Bezuidenhout has two runner up finishes on the European Tour but is still searching for that first win after claiming third place at last week’s BMW International Open.
Bezuidenhout birdied the tenth and soon found himself in a five way tie for the lead but he burst out of that with another gain on the 17th and a stunning approach to the first.
He made excellent up-and-downs to save par on the fifth and sixth but could not make it a hat-trick as he dropped a shot on the seventh.
The 25-year-old left himself a flick with a sand wedge into the eighth to bounce straight back and parred the ninth to set the target ahead of Quiros.
It is never dull when the seven time European Tour winner is around and he made five birdies on his first nine holes but also added two bogeys to turn in 33, before birdieing the second and bogeying the fourth on the way home.
Garcia birdied the first to move into second but dropped shots on the seventh and eighth before that brilliant chip-in saw him turn in 35.
A three putt bogey stalled his progress on the 11th but he got on the green at the par five 17th in two for a birdie before dropping a shot on the last.
Arnaus had sandwiched a birdie on the tenth with bogeys on the eighth and 13th but holed a monster eagle putt on the 17th to jump up the leaderboard.
Dredge made his first five cuts of the season and then missed the next five but he was a picture of consistency in round two, making 16 pars with a bogey on the sixth and a birdie on the 17th.
India’s Gaganjeet Bhullar, South African George Coetzee, Scotland’s Scott Jamieson, Finn Mikko Korhonen and Frenchman Victor Perez were at three under.
World Number 11 Jon Rahm was seven shots off the lead after a 72.