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Fraser hits top gear in Monza

Marcus Fraser of Australia tees off on the 18th hole during day two of the Italian Open at Golf Club Milano - Parco Reale di Monza on October 13, 2017 in Monza, Italy. (Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images)
Marcus Fraser of Australia tees off on the 18th hole during day two of the Italian Open at Golf Club Milano - Parco Reale di Monza on October 13, 2017 in Monza, Italy. (Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images)

Marcus Fraser produced the lowest round of his European Tour career to finish in a share of the lead at the halfway stage of the Italian Open – the fifth Rolex Series event of the year.

The Australian fired nine birdies – including five in a row from the eighth – and went bogey-free to sign for a second-round 62 to top the leaderboard at 13 under par at Golf Club Milano.

The 39 year old, who is a three-time European Tour winner, is joined at the top by Matt Wallace after the Englishman also went bogey-free in his round of 65 that featured an eagle and four birdies.

In a day of low scoring, Fraser and Wallace sit two strokes clear of their nearest challengers in Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Jamie Donaldson, the latter of whom produced a brilliant driver off the deck on the par five ninth (his final hole of the day) to make eagle and charge into contention with a round of 67.

Defending champion and home favourite Francesco Molinari sits a further shot back on ten under after mixing six birdies with three bogeys, while Masters champion Sergio Garcia and last week’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championship winner Tyrrell Hatton were then among the large chasing group on nine under.

World Number Five Jon Rahm remains in contention on seven under after a second round 68.

Player quotes

Marcus Fraser: “I haven’t felt like I played all that well for the first two days. Even for me I felt like I putted unbelievable. Didn’t really leave too many out there at all. It’s nice when that happens. The greens are great out there, so it’s nice when you get a good feel for the speed.

“Been a pretty rough year I suppose, but when you have rounds like that, you know that you’re capable of still doing it, and today was a bit of reassurance after being close to packing it in and heading home. It’s nice having that cushion of being exempt for next year but I need to keep progressing and working hard and getting back to the way I know I make.

“I haven’t seen a 62 all year to be honest. It’s nice when it felt like it was progressing but haven’t felt that comfortable for a long time with my game. Today I took it to a new level with the putter. I felt like I putted well yesterday and probably out-did it today.”

Matt Wallace: “I really wanted to try and push for the last three events in the top 60, but it was difficult with having less events to do that, as well, and I found it was quite difficult to do that. But we’re here this week, and that’s still my goal, to try and do that. If I can keep going the way I’m playing this weekend, hopefully push on and try and secure that spot there.

“Scoring-wise, I probably could be better because I’m playing that good. I’ve hit it great off the tee. I’ve hit some really good shots into greens and saved myself a couple times, not had to do that much, so if I can hole a few more putts, there could be a special number somewhere.

I think what they have done with the course in the short space of time that they have had to do with it is great. Even yesterday afternoon, the greens were in really good shape.

Jamie Donaldson: “The putter wasn’t quite as warm today as it was yesterday but overall very happy. Hit a lot of good shots, especially towards the end of the round there.

“I couldn’t quite get there with a three wood. I had about 285 front, so hit a driver off the deck and came out so perfect. It was nice to get it down there, only two feet from the hole. Yeah, one of my great shots.”

“It’s been a while. I was in contention in the middle of the year in Sweden, so it’s nice to be back up there and playing good golf, and looking forward to tomorrow.”

Francesco Molinari: “It wasn’t easy, but everyone obviously willing me to do well, and I tried to stay calm and stay in my own bubble. I did that pretty well. Things didn’t come as easy as yesterday but I fought well. I hit some good golf shots and I want to do better tomorrow.

“The course is in great shape and the weather is going to be perfect for the weekend. There is definitely a low score out there. Obviously, today for me was hard being level par after seven holes, and everyone was getting a little bit impatient. I’m happy with three under par in the end.”

Sergio Garcia: “It’s been great so far. Jon, Tommy and I all played nicely. Tommy obviously played much better today than yesterday. Jon probably played a little better yesterday than today. It was a fun couple of days with the top three in the Race to Dubai playing together. I think that not only we enjoyed it, but the people at home and the Italian people here probably had a good time too.

“My game’s been pretty solid. I think my long game is in good shape. My short game feels pretty good. Obviously it’s a work in progress and I’m excited to keep working hard at it and keep getting better as the year finishes to make sure that next year as sharp as we can be.”

Complete round two scores:

129 M Wallace (Eng) 64 65, M Fraser (Aus) 67 62,

131 J Donaldson (Wal) 64 67, K Aphibarnrat (Tha) 64 67,

132 F Molinari (Ita) 64 68,

133 A Connelly (Can) 68 65, A Björk (Swe) 64 69, T Hatton (Eng) 69 64, S Garcia (Esp) 66 67, E Pepperell (Eng) 64 69,

134 R Fisher (Eng) 68 66, G Coetzee (RSA) 65 69, M Kieffer (Ger) 68 66, A Byeong Hun (Kor) 65 69, D Horsey (Eng) 70 64, F Fritsch (Ger) 67 67, D Fichardt (RSA) 67 67,

135 J Rahm (Esp) 67 68, D Brooks (Eng) 67 68, M Lorenzo-Vera (Fra) 68 67, W Jeunghun (Kor) 68 67, C Paisley (Eng) 66 69, N Bertasio (Ita) 68 67, M Warren (Sco) 66 69, G Havret (Fra) 66 69, R Ramsay (Sco) 67 68,

136 R Sterne (RSA) 70 66, A Noren (Swe) 66 70, B Wiesberger (Aut) 69 67, J Luiten (Ned) 68 68, J Campillo (Esp) 67 69, J Lagergren (Swe) 69 67, L Donald (Eng) 69 67, P Dunne (Irl) 67 69, A Cañizares (Esp) 66 70, N Colsaerts (Bel) 68 68, B Rumford (Aus) 71 65,

137 F Aguilar (Chi) 68 69, R Karlsson (Swe) 70 67, A Levy (Fra) 68 69, J Smith (Eng) 70 67, M Fitzpatrick (Eng) 68 69, R Bland (Eng) 72 65, T Fleetwood (Eng) 71 66, A Otaegui (Esp) 70 67, D Drysdale (Sco) 67 70, G Bourdy (Fra) 68 69, A Pavan (Ita) 66 71, M Jiménez (Esp) 70 67,

138 T Olesen (Den) 69 69, M Pavon (Fra) 66 72, S Brazel (Aus) 67 71, D Burmester (RSA) 70 68, J Carlsson (Swe) 70 68, L Soomin (Kor) 71 67, G McDowell (Nir) 69 69, J Quesne (Fra) 68 70, R Gouveia (Por) 67 71, L Westwood (Eng) 69 69, N Elvira (Esp) 70 68, D Howell (Eng) 67 71, W Ormsby (Aus) 69 69, C Hanson (Eng) 68 70, B Hebert (Fra) 70 68, E Di Nitto (Ita) 69 69, L Scalise (am) (Ita) 69 69,

139 A Hansen (Den) 70 69, W Ashun (Chn) 72 67, M Southgate (Eng) 70 69, H Porteous (RSA) 70 69, J Scrivener (Aus) 70 69, A Romero (Arg) 70 69, T Detry (Bel) 71 68, R Wattel (Fra) 71 68, T Bjørn (Den) 73 66, D Im (USA) 69 70, M Siem (Ger) 70 69, T Aiken (RSA) 70 69, A Johnston (Eng) 70 69, B Stone (RSA) 67 72, R Rock (Eng) 69 70, L Slattery (Eng) 68 71, N Holman (Aus) 70 69, S Mazzoli (am) (Ita) 67 72,

140 R Paratore (Ita) 68 72, S Gallacher (Sco) 72 68, P Hanson (Swe) 73 67, E De La Riva (Esp) 71 69, L Jensen (Den) 72 68, M Kaymer (Ger) 68 72, S Lowry (Irl) 69 71, O Fisher (Eng) 71 69, C Pigem (Esp) 70 70, J Suri (USA) 71 69, E Molinari (Ita) 68 72, A Sullivan (Eng) 69 71,

141 C Shinkwin (Eng) 70 71, P Larrazábal (Esp) 69 72, M Carlsson (Swe) 71 70, B Dredge (Wal) 71 70, D Frittelli (RSA) 69 72, L Bjerregaard (Den) 70 71, L Cianchetti (Ita) 71 70, P Peterson (USA) 74 67,

142 M Ilonen (Fin) 72 70, M Korhonen (Fin) 71 71, J Walters (RSA) 70 72, P Pittayarat (Tha) 70 72, P Harrington (Irl) 73 69, M Manassero (Ita) 71 71, F Zanotti (Par) 74 68,

143 H Tanihara (Jpn) 72 71, P Waring (Eng) 69 74, N Fasth (Swe) 69 74, R Jacquelin (Fra) 72 71, R Fox (Nzl) 70 73,

144 S Jamieson (Sco) 75 69, G Stal (Fra) 73 71, A Tadini (Ita) 73 71, D Willett (Eng) 73 71, D Lingmerth (Swe) 75 69, J Morrison (Eng) 71 73,

145 T Jaidee (Tha) 72 73, G Storm (Eng) 75 70, A Dodt (Aus) 71 74, A Quiros (Esp) 72 73,

146 F Maccario (Ita) 71 75, S Gros (Fra) 76 70, J Van Zyl (RSA) 70 76,

149 J Olazábal (Esp) 74 75,

152 N Ravano (Ita) 77 75,

** V Dubuisson (Fra) 72 WD,