Spain’s Pablo Larrazabal produced a superb second round 66 (-6) to lead by three at the halfway stage of the RMB 20 million Volvo China Open in Huairou, Beijing.

The Spaniard carded five birdies and an eagle to move to 14-under-par at the Topwin Golf and Country Club and goes into the weekend with a three-shot advantage over European Tour rookie Dylan Frittelli of South Africa and Frenchman Alexander Levy on 11-under, with Soomin Lee of South Korea a shot further adrift in fourth on 10-under.

“Last weekend I probably played the best tee-to-green golf of my career and didn’t hole any putts but it looks like these past two days have been the other way around,” said Larrazabal, a four-time winner on The European Tour who dropped his only shot on the par four 17th.

“It looks like my putting is working very well. Today they said in the news in Spain that I was 65 holes without a bogey so when I went through 16 holes without a dropped shot, I said ‘just don’t make bogey!’ and put pressure on myself. But other than that I am very happy with the way it went.  

“It’s been a great two days of work so far - playing good and putting awesome - so I’m looking forward to the weekend. It is a long time since I was leading a golf tournament and I love it, so hopefully another good 36 holes and we’ll see what happens.”

Setting an early pace in the morning, European Tour rookie Frittelli shot the round of the day to equal the course record - set 24 hours earlier by Levy - with a sizzling nine-under-par 63 and stay well in the hunt for what would be the biggest win of his career.

“I’ve been playing great for a few weeks now so whenever I make a bogey I’m really disappointed,” said the 26-year-old European Challenge Tour graduate from Johannesburg, who carded seven birdies and an eagle. “To get a clean card today – I haven’t done that in a while, so I’m really happy.

“Conditions were easier than round one when we had about a two-club-wind but today the conditions were pristine with a light wind and cool temperatures. Two or three shots back and in contention going into the weekend is where I like to be.”

Overnight leader Alexander Levy remains in contention alongside Frittelli, despite failing to reproduce the opening round heroics of that course record 63. But a hard-earned two-under 70 still keeps the 2014 Volvo China Open Champion well placed going into the final two rounds.

“It was a slow start today and from the seventh I started to play well but I didn’t hole a lot of putts,” said Levy who helped his cause with a birdie-birdie finish. “Yesterday was fantastic for me. Today was different and the condition was a little bit tougher and windy but I think I played well and it’s nice to be in this position for the weekend. You can control what you do but you can’t control the other players so I feel happy to be where I am.”

With the cut made at one-under, the highest placed of the six home grown players to make it to the weekend are defending champion Li Hao-tong and fellow countryman Cao Yi who are both tied for a share of 27th place on four-under par after rounds of 71 and 72 respectively.

Among those missing the cut, former Race to Dubai winner Robert Karlsson of Sweden (level par), India’s 2006 China Volvo Open winner Jeev Milkha Singh (+1) and European Ryder Cup skipper Thomas Bjorn of Denmark (+2).

The third round of the 2017 Volvo China Open will get underway at 7.00am on Saturday (April 29).


Volvo China Open Leading Scores After Two Rounds

130 (-14) Larrazabal (Esp)

133 (-11) Frittelli (RSA), Levy (Fra)

134 (-10) Lee (Kor)

136 (-8) Coetzee (RSA), Detry (Bel)

137 (-7) Burmester (RSA), Ritthammer (Ger), Luiten (Ned), Van Zyl (Ned), Storm (Eng), Wiesberger (Aut), Yang (Kor)

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