• Joburg Open

Molinari and Lee in share of Joburg lead

ESPN staff
February 7, 2014
Edoardo Molinari made four birdies on the longer East Course © Getty Images

Edoardo Molinari and Scotland's Craig Lee share the lead at the halfway stage of the Joburg Open after both went 11 under, while David Horsey made a charge with a 63 to go one shot off the top on Friday.

Molinari and Lee, who both had a share of a four-way tie for the lead overnight, maintained their advantage. Molinari hit a four-under 68 with four birdies on the Royal Johannesburg and Kensington's longer East Course while Lee had a 67 on the West.

"It was another very good round of golf, and I hit the ball very well," said Molinari, who continued his recent resurgence, having finished inside the top 10 in Dubai last week. "Maybe not as well as yesterday, but I gave myself a lot of chances, which is what you have to do around the East Course. I am very pleased with four under today.

"You just have to play your best. There are a few less birdie chances on the East Course, but all of the par fives are reachable, so you can make a good score.

"I think I drove the ball really well. I've been driving the ball like that for the last few months and it's making a big difference, because I am hitting a couple of clubs less than I am used to and most times I am on the fairway.

"It's still two rounds to go, but I like the way I am hitting the ball. I made a few putts today, but the most important thing is to keep hitting the ball like this.

"I'm very happy with pretty much everything. I am very happy with my position and my game right now."

Lee, who made a 65 on the East in his opening round, put himself into contention for a maiden European Tour title.

"The goal was to not fall back and there's a strong field behind you, so it was important that I didn't slip back," said Lee, who has not made the cut in his last five visits to South Africa. "I had a pretty good chance early on to distance myself from the rest of the field, but I didn't really capitalise on the back nine."

England's Horsey was eight under with no dropped shots on the West. Horsey, a two-time European Tour winner, shot six unanswered birdies over his opening 14 holes, and followed them up by landing a five-footer on the 15th and a 30-foot putt on the 16th.

South Africa's George Coetzee is tied with Horsey in third on 10 under. Finland's Roope Kakko made an eight-under 64 on the East to move to nine under overall.

"The conditions were a bit breezier than yesterday, but they were made for scoring out there today," said Horsey. "I'm very pleased with the day's work. I was a little bit more aggressive, but I made a whole lot of putts and that was it, hey presto!"

As an extra incentive, there are three Open Championship places on offer to those not already exempt and finishing in the top 10.

"It's an added bonus," added Horsey. "I think it's a good system, a good change from the R&A to do that. It makes the qualifying a bit fairer and spreads it out over a longer period rather than making it a 36-hole sprint. It's at the back of my mind at the moment, but it's certainly a bonus to consider near the end of the week."

Joburg Open leaderboard

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