European Tour – 02 June, 2018: Martin Kaymer heads a truly world-class leaderboard at the halfway stage of the Italian Open after brilliant second round of eight under par 63 saw the German move one stroke clear of five fellow Ryder Cup stars at Gardagolf Country Club.
The German accelerated through the field with eight birdies and not a single dropped shot to post an 11 under total and steal a one shot advantage over Rafa Cabrera Bello (67), Graeme McDowell (66), Francesco Molinari (66), Thomas Pieters (67) and Danny Willett (67) in this the second Rolex Series event on the 2018 Race to Dubai.
“It has been a while that I played that solid without making a mistake. I think I was getting very close recently, but that positivity was missing on the golf courses because I haven’t had a lot of results recently. I have been playing well, I just couldn’t see a good score,” said Kaymer.
“Today my only goal was just trying to hit fairways. Because if you hit fairways, you have great chances. I drove it very well today and then a few putts went in on the last five, six holes, and then one of those rounds, they happen.
“It’s really exciting to see myself playing that solid. It was just a matter of putting the right mental attitude on to the golf course. I did very well the last two days.”
With favourable scoring conditions set to continue into the weekend, any one of the 83 players who made the four under par cut could make a run at the title, but the focus of the huge Italian crowds will be on the final two groups of the third round with home hero Molinari, who is bidding to win a third Italian Open, joining Pieters and Willett in the penultimate match before Kaymer, Cabrera and McDowell complete the final round line up.
Molinari is certainly the man in form of the leading six players having won the season’s first Rolex Series event – the BMW PGA Championship – at Wentworth last Sunday.
“Had a relaxing afternoon yesterday and on the course today, a bit more energy. It was a bit tricky at the start with the breeze and not so easy to get the ball close to the hole. But yeah, I did well. I was patient at the beginning and stuck with it,” said Molinari.
“I just need not to think about it and be aggressive, stay aggressive. It’s a course where a lot of people are up at the top of the leaderboard, so it’s going to be I think a bit of a birdie-fest at the weekend and I need to be ready for it.”
Cabrera Bello, like Molinari, is simply one of the most consistent players on Tour, while the Major Championship-winning trio of Kaymer, McDowell and Willett (and to a lesser extent Pieters) are all making their way back to the very highest level having gone through some tough periods of loss of form over the last couple of seasons.
The old adage of form is temporary; class is permanent could have been written for any of those four, and it will certainly be hugely exciting battle for the Italian Open trophy over the weekend.
131 M Kaymer (Ger) 68 63,
132 D Willett (Eng) 65 67, T Pieters (Bel) 65 67, F Molinari (Ita) 66 66, G McDowell (Nir) 66 66, R Cabrera Bello (Esp) 65 67,
133 J Dantorp (Swe) 68 65, E Van Rooyen (RSA) 65 68, R Rock (Eng) 63 70, T Olesen (Den) 65 68, H Li (Chn) 68 65,
134 S Hend (Aus) 68 66, H Tanihara (Jpn) 67 67, M Manassero (Ita) 66 68, R Bland (Eng) 70 64, D Frittelli (RSA) 67 67,