Belgium’s Nicolas Colsaerts posted his second consecutive round of 64 to open up a four shot lead at the halfway mark of the Turkish Airlines Open – the sixth tournament out of eight in the European Tour’s Rolex Series.
After starting the day in a three-way share of the lead, Colsaerts quickly pulled clear of the field on the front nine, picking up four shots in his opening six holes. He added further birdies on the 11th, 12th and 15th holes after the turn to move to 14 under par for the tournament at Regnum Carya Golf & Spa Resort in Antalya.
Colsaerts, who is currently 49th in the Race to Dubai, has saved some of his best performances of the 2017 season for the Rolex Series events, finishing tied third in the BMW PGA Championship, tied 19th in the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open and, most recently, tied 15th in the Italian Open.
He will now be hoping to convert that form into a third European Tour title and a first victory since the 2012 Volvo World Match Play Championship, with Englishman Eddie Pepperell his nearest rival on ten under par after a bogey free second round of 66.
Pepperell is enjoying a superb run of form, having recorded five top ten finishes in his last six appearances, and he will be seeking a maiden European Tour triumph this weekend.
Another in-form player, Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat, is third after moving to nine under par courtesy of a round of 67, while Ryder Cup players Matthew Fitzpatrick and Stephen Gallacher are a further shot back after rounds of 65. They share fourth place with England’s Matthew Southgate (65) and Ireland’s Shane Lowry (66).
Last week’s WGC-HSBC Champions winner Justin Rose is nine shots off the pace on five under par after a round of 68, while the player he is trying to catch at the top of the Race to Dubai, fellow Englishman Tommy Fleetwood, posted a round of 70 and is 13 shots back on one under par.
Nicolas Colsaerts: “I kind of had to work a little bit for this one. Yesterday was kind of eyes closed and everything kind of falling on my lap. Today it’s more satisfying to shoot the same score but having to go and find it a little bit more.
“I still played great. I kept the ball in play the way I wanted. I had a bit of a good break on the second, and I recovered well every time I hit a bad shot, so I guess that was a key.
“If I’m capable of going 14 under in two rounds, then somebody else or a few other guys are capable of doing the same. I was kind of playing aggressively, sensibly enough, to still give myself birdie putts, because I have the pace of the greens since yesterday morning and that seemed to be fine.
“I’m going to try to keep playing the way I’ve been playing the last two days. I’m comfortable off the tee. I’ve been hitting my irons quite well. Probably not get ahead of myself, and see wherever that takes me.”
Eddie Pepperell: “I felt like I played really solid most of the round until 16 and 17. They weren’t great tee shots. The one on 16 threw me a little bit but a nice way to finish. Try and improve a little bit on the long game over the weekend and keep the putter feeling nice.
“It was perfect playing conditions again. I felt like my game was in good shape all the way around. A couple iffy tee shots coming in, but staying patient and not trying to make any silly errors. When I wasn’t quite close to the hole on a couple of holes, had to two putt, but didn’t make any silly errors.
“The good thing is when I’m hitting my good shots, I seem to be making the most of them. That’s always nice. You generally tend to move one way up the leaderboard when you do that. Two more days to try to do the same.
Kiradech Aphibarnrat: “It’s always a good way to finish the last with a birdie and get away from the golf course. It’s a little bit closer to Nicolas, but the way he’s playing the first two rounds is fantastic.
“The last three months, I was playing solid golf and really comfortable with the swing. The way I’m striking the ball is fantastic. I’m working with my coach and understanding what to do, and I think it’s working the right way.
“Golf today is on and off. Didn’t hit a lot of good shots but some holes that I need the putt, I made the putt. So quite struggling in the middle of the round, but overall still a good score.”
Matthew Fitzpatrick: “Yesterday I gave myself the same amount of chances, seven inside 15 feet and just didn’t hole them. Whereas today, I had Jamie, my caddie, reading them and just sort of taking advantage of those chances, really.
“It’s been a common theme in the last few weeks, really, not dropping too many shots. Obviously want that to continue, but there’s going to be times where it’s going to be tough. It’s not easy out there. I think I’m just going to try to keep doing what I’m doing.”
Round two scores
128 N Colsaerts (Bel) 64 64,
132 E Pepperell (Eng) 66 66,
133 K Aphibarnrat (Tha) 66 67,
134 S Lowry (Irl) 68 66, M Southgate (Eng) 69 65, S Gallacher (Sco) 69 65, M Fitzpatrick (Eng) 69 65,
135 L Westwood (Eng) 67 68,
136 J Smith (Eng) 69 67, P Uihlein (USA) 69 67, S Kjeldsen (Den) 67 69, T Pieters (Bel) 69 67,
137 M Pavon (Fra) 66 71, D Frittelli (RSA) 70 67, P Harrington (Irl) 65 72, A Romero (Arg) 65 72, P Dunne (Irl) 67 70, J Rose (Eng) 69 68, J Luiten (Ned) 64 73, T Olesen (Den) 69 68, I Poulter (Eng) 66 71, T Hatton (Eng) 67 70,
138 F Zanotti (Par) 72 66, C Shinkwin (Eng) 71 67, J Suri (USA) 68 70, A Sullivan (Eng) 69 69,
139 H Porteous (RSA) 64 75, A Otaegui (Esp) 69 70, P Waring (Eng) 70 69, J Campillo (Esp) 68 71, R Ramsay (Sco) 71 68,
140 L Bjerregaard (Den) 70 70, N Elvira (Esp) 69 71, M Siem (Ger) 70 70, M Fraser (Aus) 69 71, A Altuntas (Tur) 71 69, B Wiesberger (Aut) 69 71,
141 R Rock (Eng) 72 69, D Drysdale (Sco) 68 73, A Dodt (Aus) 74 67, R Fox (Nzl) 73 68, D Lipsky (USA) 74 67, T Bjørn (Den) 70 71, T Fleetwood (Eng) 71 70, C Wood (Eng) 68 73,
142 G Coetzee (RSA) 71 71, A Levy (Fra) 72 70, L Slattery (Eng) 70 72, S Hend (Aus) 72 70, M Kaymer (Ger) 71 71, M Warren (Sco) 72 70,
143 M Wallace (Eng) 71 72, A Johnston (Eng) 70 73, R Wattel (Fra) 75 68, H Tanihara (Jpn) 74 69, E Molinari (Ita) 74 69, B Hebert (Fra) 72 71, D Horsey (Eng) 70 73, A Björk (Swe) 71 72, G Bourdy (Fra) 69 74, V Dubuisson (Fra) 73 70,
144 M Lorenzo-Vera (Fra) 74 70, B Stone (RSA) 70 74, H Stenson (Swe) 73 71, S Brazel (Aus) 72 72,
145 A Connelly (Can) 72 73, J Wang (Kor) 72 73,
146 R Paratore (Ita) 75 71, A Wall (Eng) 74 72, H Li (Chn) 73 73,
147 R Sterne (RSA) 76 71, S Jamieson (Sco) 73 74,
148 D Burmester (RSA) 76 72,
149 N Bertasio (Ita) 75 74,
150 G Storm (Eng) 75 75, L Acikalin (am) (Tur) 73 77,
151 P Larrazábal (Esp) 81 70,
158 T Yamac (am) (Tur) 79 79,