14 May 2021: Robert MacIntyre carded the joint-lowest round of the day, a six under par 66, as he took a share of the lead at the halfway stage of the Betfred British Masters hosted by Danny Willett. Shubhankar Sharma worked his way up the order and into the weekend with a poised 71 in the second round. Ajeetesh Sandhu shot a 72 but with the cut at 1-over, he fell just one short of making the weekend. Gaganjeet Bhullar and SSP Chawrasia played themselves out at the halfway stage posting 76 in the second round.
The Scotsman, searching for his second European Tour victory, raced up the leaderboard with five birdies on his first five holes on the iconic Brabazon Course at The Belfry, making the turn four under par. Three birdies on his closing five holes saw him sign for a seven under par total, sharing the lead with compatriot Calum Hill and England’s Richard Bland.
“It was one of those days where you start off and everything you look at goes in. It was exactly where we’re aiming it and it was good to see the work we’ve been putting in on the putting continuing to perform,” said MacIntyre.
“I started working with Graeme (Leslie) in the middle of last year. I was getting into bad habits and he was just drilling it into me: ‘trust in what you’re doing’. Everything we’ve done is pretty simple; he just gives me basic things to work on and then I just trust it.”
It is the first time Bland has shared the lead after 36 holes at a European Tour event since the British Masters in 2016, as he bids to record a maiden win on his 478th start. The 48-year-old is the only bogey-free player after two rounds, adding to yesterday’s score of 68 with a round of 69.
Hill continued the form which has seen him record three top-eight finishes on the 2021 Race to Dubai, which included a season-best result of tied third at the Kenya Savannah Classic supported by Absa in March.
“I think the weather was more favourable than it could’ve been, so not too bad,” surmised Hill.
“I’ve had a couple of chip-ins from the first two rounds already. I keep knocking it close and not putting too much stress on my putter when I need to get up and down, so it’s been really good.
“I didn’t quite have the long game dialled in today, so I had a few lag putts that I had to get up and not too many close that were very close, but all-in-all it wasn’t too bad. I’m striving for a very good weekend and finish on top but we’ll see what we can do.”
Englishman Eddie Pepperell, winner of the British Masters in 2018 at Walton Heath, shares fourth place with Frenchman Julien Guerrier and South African Justin Harding.
Tournament host Danny Willett remains in the hunt after a level par round of 72. The 2016 Masters champion shares 16th place on three under par. Willett has raised £9,000 for his chosen charity, Prostate Cancer UK, after carding four second round birdies, adding to the five he recorded yesterday. Tournament title sponsors Betfred have pledged £1,000 for every birdie and £2,000 for every eagle Willett records this week to Prostate Cancer UK.
Scores after Round Two:
137 R BLAND (ENG) 68 69, R MACINTYRE (SCO) 71 66, C HILL (SCO) 67 70,
138 J GUERRIER (FRA) 72 66, J HARDING (RSA) 69 69, E PEPPERELL (ENG) 70 68,
139 M PAVON (FRA) 68 71,
140 L SLATTERY (ENG) 72 68, G MIGLIOZZI (ITA) 68 72, L DE JAGER (RSA) 68 72, B WIESBERGER (AUT) 68 72, A SULLIVAN (ENG) 69 71, D COUPLAND (ENG) 71 69, J SMITH (ENG) 71 69, R MANSELL (ENG) 69 71,
141 M KORHONEN (FIN) 70 71, D WILLETT (ENG) 69 72, C WOOD (ENG) 69 72, R RAMSAY (SCO) 70 71, P DUNNE (IRL) 72 69, J STALTER (FRA) 69 72, A ARNAUS (ESP) 69 72, M SCHWAB (AUT) 66 75, L CANTER (ENG) 70 71, J MORRISON (ENG) 68 73,
142 R JACQUELIN (FRA) 75 67, J HANSEN (DEN) 71 71, J WINTHER (DEN) 72 70, D BURMESTER (RSA) 69 73, S HORSFIELD (ENG) 72 70, C SORDET (FRA) 68 74, A MERONK (POL) 70 72, M LEE (AUS) 75 67, A JOHNSTON (ENG) 71 71, A LEVY (FRA) 71 71, A CHESTERS (ENG) 73 69, T PULKKANEN (FIN) 72 70, J SURI (USA) 68 74, J JANEWATTANANOND (THA) 73 69, J GEARY (NZL) 70 72,
143 S KJELDSEN (DEN) 71 72, R SANTOS (POR) 73 70, R PARATORE (ITA) 73 70, A COCKERILL (CAN) 70 73, E MOLINARI (ITA) 71 72, R FISHER (ENG) 69 74, T BJ?RN (DEN) 72 71,
144 S GARCIA RODRIGUEZ (ESP) 71 73, T OLESEN (DEN) 71 73, G PORTEOUS (ENG) 70 74, D VAN DRIEL (NED) 74 70, A WU (CHN) 73 71, A OTAEGUI (ESP) 73 71, S V?LIM?KI (FIN) 71 73, J GONNET (FRA) 71 73, C PAISLEY (ENG) 70 74, S SHARMA (IND) 73 71, C SHARVIN (NIR) 73 71, D WHITNELL (ENG) 70 74,
European Tour Report