Ignacio Garrido shot a 3-under 69 Friday to take a one-stroke lead after the second round of the European Tour’s Johnnie Walker Championship.
The 39-year-old Spaniard rolled in his fifth birdie of the day at the par-3 No. 17. The 8-under total left him a shot clear of five players that included Thomas Bjorn (69).
2011 JOHNNIE WALKER CHAMPIONSHIP
The Johnnie Walker Championship again is being played on the PGA Centenary Course at the Gleneagles Resort, which also is the venue for the 2014 Ryder Cup.
"It's not an easy course and it doesn't give you many birdies," Garrido said. "But my game's been solid."
Overnight leader Mark Foster (71) was among the players tied with Bjorn at Gleneagles. Ireland's Peter Lawrie (69), Italy's Lorenzo Gagli (68) and England's Kenneth Ferrie (69) also were one back of the leader.
Garrido won the 2003 BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth for his second European Tour title. He has had modest success this season, his best finish fifth at the Irish Open.
Foggy conditions on Thursday caused many players to finish their first round early Friday.
Garrido opening his second round with a bogey on the par-4 No. 1, then birdied three of the next six holes and picked up his other shot at No. 11.
Bjorn rediscovered his British Open form after an unhappy stint in the United States, shooting a second straight round in the 60s. Bjorn dropped just one shot on Friday, on No. 15, and three birdies around the turn propelled him up the leaderboard. He picked up a fourth shot at the long par-4 No. 7.
After finishing fourth at Royal St. George's six weeks ago, the 70th-ranked Bjorn struggled to tie for 68th at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. He then missed the cut at the PGA Championship.
"I played extremely well that week at the Open and got a lot of confidence. But I found myself in a position I always do where I then go to America, and all of a sudden have to hit the ball straight up in the air. I found it impossible," said Bjorn, an 11-time winner on the European Tour.
"I went home and worked for a few days, came here and found a few things I need to do to control the ball again. I'm playing decent golf."
Colin Montgomerie shot a 73 for 1 under.
Ferrie's last victory came in the 2005 European Open at The K Club -- after Bjorn, four ahead with a round to play, took 11 on the 17th hole and 6 on the last for an 86 that remains the worst score of his 16-year tour career.
Losing in such a fashion was bad enough, but it also counted against the Dane when it came to Ian Woosnam choosing his wild cards for the Ryder Cup at the Irish venue the following year.
Now he and Ferrie are locked together on the course that will stage the 2014 Ryder Cup.
Bjorn, chairman of the Players' Committee on the European Tour, has been talked of a possible future Ryder Cup captain. But, four months after serving as one of Colin Montgomerie's assistants, the 40-year-old returned to winning ways in Qatar.
"I want to play golf at the moment," said Bjorn when asked about the Ryder Cup captaincy. "I think when you get to my age, you always hope there's one more in you. I don't see it as something that you can stand there and say 'I want to do that'. It's something that you're asked to do and, if asked, I think any player would say yes.
"It's not something I've got my sights set on because it's out of my control,” he added. "I'm a professional golfer -- I'm a player. That's what we are here to do and that's what I'm doing at the moment. I feel good about my game and as long as I enjoy it that's what I'll focus on. I don't want to sit on the sidelines in a buggy."
Ferrie's main priority is to secure his future on the circuit.
Despite coming within an inch or two of the European Tour's first-ever 59 -- his approach to the last in Malaga in March ran past the edge of the hole -- he stands 112th on the money list. Only the top 115 retain their cards at the end of the season and Ferrie has turned back to a belly putter to try to help him.
"I've been playing pretty well all year, hitting lots of good shots, but haven't been making the putts," he said. "People looking at my results might not think my game's been there, but it's been decent. I just need to keep plugging away and hopefully things will keep going my way."
The nightmare run of missed cuts for England's Nick Dougherty looked as if it might end when he birdied three of his last four holes for a 69 and 1-over total. But over 90 minutes later it was confirmed he needed to eagle the par-5 ninth. That makes it 21 early exits in a row going back to last November for the three-time Tour winner.
"I'm not going to get down," he said. "That's the best I've played in two years probably -- it felt like the old me."