Marc Warren set the clubhouse target on the second day of the weather-hit inaugural NH Collection Open at La Reserva de Sotogrande.
A delay of two hours and 40 minutes on Thursday due to heavy rain meant half the field were unable to complete their opening rounds on schedule, while 45 players had not finished round two before play was suspended due to darkness.
Earlier in the day, Glasgow’s Warren had completed an opening 72 before adding a second round of 67 containing six birdies and just one bogey.
“My round didn’t finish yesterday so I had to come back and play seven holes this morning and I played okay,” the two-time European Tour winner said.
“At the start of the second round I struggled a bit with concentration, but once I got it going I played really good – long game was excellent, short game was good. I think I got the best out of my round today.
“Today and yesterday’s conditions were pretty similar, obviously without the rain. The wind is going to stay pretty strong and it’s going to be tough for the guys playing this afternoon.
“I have been playing well the last few weeks, getting stronger and stronger, so I was really looking forward to this event. It’s like a bonus event for us, coming at the last minute, and I am pleased to see how good the course actually is. I’m looking forward to the next two days.
“I like the course very much. If it was perfect weather it would still be a good test, but with the strong winds we have here it gets really tough at times.”
At five under par, Warren shared the lead with England’s David Horsey, who had three holes of his second round left.
Chile’s Felipe Aguilar was safely in the clubhouse on four under after a 69, while Spain’s Adrian Otaegui and Welshman Bradley Dredge were also four under with three and six holes to play respectively. First round leader Jack Doherty, from Kilmarnock, added a 74 to his opening 69 to finish one under par.
On the PGA Tour, Spain’s Sergio Garcia warmed up for next week’s US Masters in style with a superb second round of 65 in the Shell Houston Open.
Garcia followed his opening 67 with five birdies and an eagle in a flawless display at the Golf Club of Houston, setting the clubhouse target at 12 under par.
The Ryder Cup star started on the back nine and picked up his first shot of the day from 12 feet on the 12th before a stunning approach from 280 yards on the par-five 13th finished just five feet from the hole to set up an eagle. A long-range birdie on the 14th helped Garcia reach the turn in 32 and he then carded a hat-trick of birdies from the third to stretch his lead to four shots over Australian Matt Jones and American Cameron Tringale, who had both returned second successive 68s.
Garcia shared the lead at Augusta 12 months ago with an opening 66, the first time he had led a major since the 2007 Open, when he eventually lost out in a play-off to Padraig Harrington at Carnoustie. The 33-year-old has had 16 top-10 finishes in 61 major appearances but, after a 12th in the Masters in 2012, famously said: “I’m not good enough. In 13 years I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to play for second or third place.” Masters favourite Rory McIlroy had been “really happy” with his form from tee to green during an opening 70 and got off to a flying start yesterday with birdies on the 10th and 12th and picked up another shot at the first. However, the 24-year-old then missed from three feet for par on the third and did well to drop just one shot on the sixth, scrambling a bogey five from a greenside bunker after a penalty drop from a poor tee shot.
A round of 71 left McIlroy nine shots behind Garcia on three under par, but there was much worse news for Ryder Cup team-mate Ian Poulter, who suffered an early exit from the event as he slumped to a second round of 77, five over par.
North Berwick’s Catriona Matthew continued her fightback to move into contention at the Kraft Nabisco Championship in California last night.
Matthew was four over par after six holes of her opening round after two early double bogeys, but responded with four birdies to shoot an opening 72.
And another four birdies coupled with no dropped shots saw the 44-year-old record a second round of 68 to lie four under par. Matthew, who was second in this event in 2007, was three off the lead held by American Lexi Thompson and Korea’s Se Ri Pak.