Ángel Hidalgo shares the lead at the halfway stage of the 2022 Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters after posting a sparkling second-round 63.
The 24-year-old home favourite produced a putting masterclass at Real Club Valderrama, holing a series of lengthy birdie efforts and pulling off some impressive par saves as he made eight gains and no bogeys to sit alongside Australian Min Woo Lee and fellow Spaniard Adrián Otaegui on nine under par.
Starting from the tenth tee on Friday morning, Hidalgo opened his birdie account from long range at the 11th before closing his front nine with a hat-trick of gains on the 16th, 17th and 18th.
Roared on by the crowd, the Spaniard then reeled off four straight birdies from the third hole before getting up and down for valuable pars at the seventh and ninth to keep his card clean.
First-round co-leader Lee joined Hidalgo at the summit in the afternoon thanks to a 67 which featured a magnificent eagle, three birdies and a single bogey. Two-time DP World Tour winner Lee battled hard on the back nine, parring the final seven holes courtesy of some excellent recovery shots.
Spain’s Otaegui made it a three-way tie late in the day, notching six birdies and one bogey in his 66.
The leading trio were three shots clear of Swede Joakim Lagergren, with Scot Robert MacIntyre and Spain’s Sebastian Garcia Rodriguez another shot back on five under. The 2020 winner John Catlin of the United States is then amongst a group of four players at four under par.
Ángel Hidalgo: I started the day hitting it so badly on the range, but I just tried to put the ball in the fairway on the first few holes and started to take some confidence. I made every putt today and that was the key.
The up and down on the seventh was easier than the one on the ninth, because I just had to touch the ball to roll it. On nine there was more pressure because I knew if I made par, I would be bogey free. When I saw the ball rolling, I thought it was 100% in. An amazing up and down.
The support was amazing. It’s the first time I’ve played with so many people following me. I was a bit nervous at times, but it was great feeling. A 63 is a dream score and I’m so happy.
Min Woo Lee: It was a bit of a grind at the end. I made a lot of up and downs, it wasn’t easy. The greens got a little bumpy and the wind switched around. I played really good – front nine was solid, made a nice eagle on four, which was probably the highlight of the day. A lot of up and downs on the back nine.
It’s another two days of hopefully the same thing. Hit it OK off the tee and same for approach play, and the wedges and short game have been amazing. Hopefully if that stays up, I can keep going.
On four I had a nice drive, three iron, landed up top and it went to two and a half feet for eagle. Just tapped that in. The chip in on ten, hit it just over the back. It’s funny, that was the worst lie of all of them and I ended up chipping it in.
Eight and nine I lipped out a bunker shot and chip shot, so I knew I was getting close to chipping in. I like to say to my caddie and friends that I have one chip in per round.
Joakim Lagergren: I’ve been playing well. Missed a couple of tee shots here and there, some wedge shots that need to be a bit closer to the pin, but other than that, holing some putts and hitting some good shots so happy with the two days work.
It was very close to a bogey-free round. That would be really impressive around here. But I’ve been playing well with not too many mistakes.
I’ve played here five or six years in a row so I’m learning it more year by year. Also spending a lot of time here during spring and fall, not just at Valderrama, but in the area, so I can take the chance to go out and play some when I can. I would say at first I didn’t love the place, but I do now.
Great position but just need to play good golf to catch the leaders at three ahead, so full throttle.
Robert MacIntyre: Yeah, it was solid. I just made a few mistakes late on there when I was trying to be too fancy and trying to create too much out of a shot rather than just sticking to the numbers’ game. But, as I said yesterday, under par around here is good and the way I was playing one-under probably isn’t a fair reflection but I’ll take it.
It’s not (a place where you can be aggressive), not at all. I feel I’ve got a lot of chances out there the way I play. Just now I’m driving it well and my iron play is the best it’s been in a long, long time.
I’ve not played anything different today than yesterday. It’s a golf course you can’t overpower – you just can’t hit a driver everywhere. You’ve got to plot your way round from A to B. It’s awkward, it’s difficult. It’s Valderrama – it doesn’t let up from the first tee shot to the last.