Pablo Larrazabal makes putter sing as he storms to the lead at China Open in Beijing

Spaniard cards five birdies and an eagle to move to 14-under-par, three shots ahead of Dylan Frittelli and Alexander Levy

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 April, 2017, 9:02pm
UPDATED : Friday, 28 April, 2017, 9:02pm

Spain’s Pablo Larrazabal produced a superb second-round 66 to lead by three at the halfway stage of the Volvo China Open in Beijing.

The Spaniard carded five birdies and an eagle to move to 14-under-par in the 20 million yuan (HK$22.5m) tournament.

He 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, while Lee Soo-min of South Korea is a shot further adrift in fourth.

“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 European Tour winner 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.

Setting an early pace in the morning, 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 to 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.

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“To get a clean card today – I haven’t done that in a while, so I’m really happy. Two or three shots back and in contention going into the weekend is where I like to be.”

Overnight leader 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 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.