England's Robert Coles carded a 7-under-par 65 Friday to find himself among four men sharing the halfway lead at the European Tour’s Austrian Golf Open.
The 39-year-old followed up his opening round of level-par 72 with a flawless second day in which he picked up seven birdies at Diamond Country Club. At that point he was sitting pretty alongside Dutchman Joost Luiten in the clubhouse, but by the end of play that lead was shared with two more competitors on 7 under overall.
AUSTRIAN GOLF OPEN
The Austrian Open is being played for the second straight year at Diamond Country Club near Vienna, after spending four years at Fontana Golf Club.
Denmark’s Thomas Norret and India's Gaganjeet Bhullar were the gatecrashers to snatch a portion of the lead.
Miguel Angel Jimenez added a 69 to his opening 73, and is tied for 18th at 2 under. Padraig Harrington finished two rounds at 1 over, carding a 70 to go with his opening 75. This was Harrington’s first event after instituting major swing changes, and he is one shot behind him at 1 under. He’ll play the weekend after finishing 36 holes in a tie for 47th place.
Controversial American veteran John Daly failed to complete his second round after apparently walking off due to a row with officials. Daly carded 74 Thursday and was level par for the day Friday before abandoning his round at the 15th following a two-shot penalty over the placement of his ball after hitting into the water.
After completing the 15th hole, Daly was told by the referee he had dropped his ball in the wrong place after it landed in an unplayable position under a TV tower. Instead of accepting the two-shot penalty, he decided to quit.
Daly, the two-time major champion nicknamed ‘Wild Thing,’ had also thrown a club into the water after a mishit earlier on the same hole.
Also Friday, newly minted professional Tom Lewis of England, the amateur star of the British Open last summer, carded a 70 to go with his opening 74, and easily made the cut in his first appearance as a professional. Paul Cutler, another prominent amateur making his pro debut, missed the cut after rounds of 77 and 74.
Bhullar even led outright at one point, starting on the back nine and producing a sublime six birdies, only to slip up on the third and fourth holes by following a bogey with a horrible triple-bogey 7 to fall back.
"I made quite a few long putts so I probably turned a 68 into a 65," Coles said. "I'm not going to complain about that. You have got to hit the fairways here if you want to make a score. I have been driving it better this week because it had been pretty terrible recently. It feels a lot better better now.
"I really enjoyed it out there today and that is always the key for me,” he added. “If I am happy and enjoying my golf then I will generally play well, so hopefully I can keep doing that over the weekend and we will see what happens."
Luiten, who was a shot off the pace overnight following a 67 Thursday, improved his lot after his 2-under 70. A double-bogey 6 on the seventh and another dropped shot on 12 spoiled his chances at the outright lead.
"My short game has kept me in with a chance so far,” the 25-year-old Dutchman said. "I have hit a few misses but they have been good misses if you can say that, and I have to hang in there and stay close to the lead and then see what we can do on Sunday. I really like to play with the pressure of the final round."
The leading quartet was two shots clear of four men on 5 under: Australian Daniel Gaunt, local amateur Matthias Schwab, Italy's Emanuele Canonica and Englishman Simon Wakefield.
Overnight leader Liam Bond of Wales followed up his 66 with a disappointing 74 to slip into a tie for ninth at 4 four under, alongside Ireland's Gary Murphy and Scotland’s Gary Orr.