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Brilliant Kaymer heads world class leaderboard at Italian Open

Martin Kaymer of Germany tees off on the 18th hole during day two of the Italian Open at Gardagolf CC on June 1, 2018 in Brescia, Italy. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
Martin Kaymer of Germany tees off on the 18th hole during day two of the Italian Open at Gardagolf CC on June 1, 2018 in Brescia, Italy. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

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.

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.

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.

Player Quotes

Martin Kaymer: “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.

“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.”

Graeme McDowell: “Today I didn’t play well again. Really getting the ball around with some really good iron play and some good scrambling, you know, and feeling good on the greens.

“I think just coming here, having a little confidence. Looking around, knowing I’m one of the more experienced players in the field. Knowing that my best golf can compete here, and like you say, having played well on this type of golf courses in the past; change of scenery from the PGA TOUR, just feeling comfortable among guys I know well here and environments that bring back the old memories.”

Francesco Molinari: “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.

“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.”

Rafa Cabrera Bello: “I felt the pin positions were a bit tougher today, but overall, I did feel the course was playing fairly similar to yesterday. The greens are soft. The fairways are also a little soft, so you can go pin seeking, and there are birdies out there.

“I’m obviously very happy to have backed up yesterday’s good round with another solid round of golf. The wind picked up probably for our last nine holes. Made it a bit trickier.”

Danny Willett: “Two really solid days. Drove the ball great, gave ourselves a lot of opportunities. Having the ball in place makes it a little bit easier. Could have rolled in a couple more in and would be a really nice couple of days.

“We’re going to go out there and have a go at it. Haven’t made a cut for a while, so to actually be this side of the leaderboard, it’s actually pretty nice. Just going to go out there, do the things we’ve been doing and hit some good golf shots and get in position.”

Thomas Pieters: “I was good off the tee today, like yesterday, and when I do that then I can be aggressive with my approaches and can make birdies. I left a few out there like yesterday but I am happy overall. I haven’t been up there in a while to be honest but I feel good, I feel relaxed and ready to go tomorrow. It should be a fun weekend, especially with Francesco up there too – the crowds have been great so far and I am sure that more people will be out here tomorrow.”

Round Two Scores

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,

135 A Sullivan (Eng) 67 68, I Poulter (Eng) 67 68, A Saddier (Fra) 68 67, T Fleetwood (Eng) 68 67, D Fichardt (RSA) 66 69, D Lipsky (USA) 68 67, J Smith (Eng) 67 68, L Canter (Eng) 63 72, J Morrison (Eng) 67 68, T Detry (Bel) 69 66, R Sterne (RSA) 63 72, L Slattery (Eng) 66 69, D Howell (Eng) 69 66,

136 B Dredge (Wal) 68 68, D Im (USA) 66 70, D Drysdale (Sco) 68 68, R Evans (Eng) 67 69, M Fitzpatrick (Eng) 66 70, G Fernandez – Castaño (Esp) 70 66, L Westwood (Eng) 66 70, A Bland (Aus) 70 66, O Fisher (Eng) 68 68, C Ford (Eng) 65 71, J Campillo (Esp) 68 68,

137 P Harrington (Irl) 71 66, L Gagli (Ita) 68 69, M Lorenzo-Vera (Fra) 66 71, A Romero (Arg) 67 70, W Ormsby (Aus) 66 71, A Connelly (Can) 69 68, J Guerrier (Fra) 70 67, C Shinkwin (Eng) 66 71, M Wallace (Eng) 65 72, A Wu (Chn) 70 67, A Otaegui (Esp) 68 69, G Havret (Fra) 68 69, T Aiken (RSA) 69 68, R Fox (Nzl) 69 68, J Kruyswijk (RSA) 67 70, D Burmester (RSA) 70 67, R McGowan (Eng) 70 67, J Geary (Nzl) 68 69,

138 B Stone (RSA) 69 69, M Schwab (Aut) 67 71, H Porteous (RSA) 70 68, J Wang (Kor) 68 70, J Scrivener (Aus) 67 71, A Rai (Eng) 67 71, D Brooks (Eng) 67 71, F Zanotti (Par) 69 69, A Levy (Fra) 68 70, P Dunne (Irl) 69 69, E Pepperell (Eng) 67 71, M Jiménez (Esp) 68 70, B Rumford (Aus) 70 68, A Johnston (Eng) 69 69, L Bjerregaard (Den) 68 70, A Noren (Swe) 70 68, S Jamieson (Sco) 69 69, N Elvira (Esp) 69 69, B Hebert (Fra) 70 68, G Green (Mas) 71 67, S Kjeldsen (Den) 70 68, J Donaldson (Wal) 66 72, C Wood (Eng) 67 71, T Immelman (RSA) 69 69, P Hanson (Swe) 68 70,

139 S Heisele (Ger) 71 68, F Bergamaschi (Ita) 71 68, G Bourdy (Fra) 70 69, F Aguilar (Chi) 70 69, R Fisher (Eng) 65 74, T Jaidee (Tha) 71 68, M Korhonen (Fin) 68 71, S Gros (Fra) 71 68, C Syme (Sco) 68 71, C Hanson (Eng) 71 68, M Southgate (Eng) 71 68, M Warren (Sco) 68 71,

140 M Ilonen (Fin) 70 70, G Migliozzi (Ita) 72 68, A Chesters (Eng) 67 73, R Gouveia (Por) 72 68, S Gallacher (Sco) 69 71, J Choi (Kor) 71 69, A Björk (Swe) 71 69,

141 P Oriol (Esp) 70 71, S Horsfield (Eng) 69 72, M Kinhult (Swe) 69 72, C Koepka (USA) 72 69, A Quiros (Esp) 71 70, C Paisley (Eng) 71 70, R Ramsay (Sco) 67 74, P Khongwatmai (Tha) 69 72, G Coetzee (RSA) 70 71, J Norris (Aus) 69 72, T Hatton (Eng) 72 69, A Pavan (Ita) 69 72,

142 M Foster (Eng) 71 71, N Bertasio (Ita) 69 73, L Cianchetti (Ita) 69 73, L Jensen (Den) 70 72, R Wattel (Fra) 71 71, C Sordet (Fra) 69 73, N Colsaerts (Bel) 74 68,

143 F Laporta (Ita) 71 72, R Jacquelin (Fra) 68 75, M Fraser (Aus) 74 69, A Dodt (Aus) 72 71, M Pavon (Fra) 72 71, J Lagergren (Swe) 68 75, P Waring (Eng) 68 75,

144 P Widegren (Swe) 69 75, M Kieffer (Ger) 71 73, D Horsey (Eng) 72 72, E Molinari (Ita) 76 68, C Bezuidenhout (RSA) 73 71, S Brown (Eng) 71 73, S Chawrasia (Ind) 73 71, J Winther (Den) 69 75,

145 J Heath (Eng) 72 73, M Siem (Ger) 72 73, S Brazel (Aus) 70 75,

146 R Cho (Kor) 71 75, R Karlsson (Swe) 70 76, T Pulkkanen (Fin) 74 72, B Neil (Sco) 73 73,

147 S Lee (Kor) 70 77, S Fernandez (Esp) 71 76, J Vecchi Fossa (Ita) 74 73,

148 P Angles (Esp) 73 75, N Geyger (Chi) 74 74,

149 F Maccario (Ita) 75 74, O Farr (Wal) 77 72, E Di Nitto (Ita) 74 75,

150 M Baldwin (Eng) 75 75,

151 R Paratore (Ita) 73 78, C Pigem (Esp) 72 79,

155 Z Lombard (RSA) 78 77,

** P Larrazábal (Esp) 69 RT,