John Daly made five birdies and an eagle in his second round on Friday to move to 6 under and challenge the leaders at the Sicilian Open on the European Tour. With afternoon winds blowing in off the Mediterranean, the 46-year-old Daly managed the conditions to post a 5-under 67.
“The last 11 holes were very, very difficult.” Daly said. “The winds just got stronger and stronger and you never want to say pars are a good score, but today pars were a good score.”
The Sicilian Open is in its second year on the European Tour, and its first at Verdura Golf and Spa Resort.
Daly is two shots off the lead shared by six players, including first-round leader Peter Lawrie, who followed an opening 64 with a level-par 72.
“My putter went cold, it was as simple as that.” Lawrie said. “The greens were difficult to read but I missed three 5-footers in a row, which was tough to take after yesterday.”
Lawrie was joined at 8 under by Jamie Donaldson (71), David Lynn (69), Pelle Edberg (66), Maarten Lafeber (68) and Simon Wakefield (67).
With the cut at 3 under, a European Tour record was tied for the least number of shots between the cut mark and the leading score. The last time the gap was five was the 2004 Qatar Masters.
Home favorite Matteo Manassero failed in his attempt to make it into the weekend, shooting his second straight even-par 72.
Defending champion Raphael Jacquelin (73) also missed the cut, but American Rich Beem, playing in Europe because he has lost his card on the PGA Tour, shot his second 69 to move alongside Daly at 6 under.
Edberg was the biggest mover Friday morning, carding a 6-under-par round of 66, but it was a disappointing day for Irishman Lawrie, who had posted a brilliant 64 on Thursday but had to settle for a level-par round on Friday.
In contrast, Edberg managed six birdies and an eagle while Englishman Wakefield also impressed with his 67 and Lafeber’s 68.
The sextet have only three European Tour titles among them courtesy of Lynn, Lafeber and Lawrie, who was most the recent champion in Spain in 2008.
"It was just one those days when everything went right," said Wakefield. "I hit every shot I wanted to hit, and managed to hole my fair share of putts, so I'm delighted.
"The company's been great, the weather's perfect and there aren't many more scenic places like this to play golf, so I've really enjoyed myself," he added. "It makes you feel a bit more relaxed, and I play my best golf when I am relaxed."
Lafeber, who had to go back to Q-School last year after finishing 149th in the Race to Dubai, picked out Welshman Donaldson, who would have led on his own had he not bogeyed his final hole, as the man to watch.
"Last year my long game was horrible -- I was hitting it all over the place," said the Dutchman. "So I'm happy to be back playing well again.
"It's looking pretty bunched at the moment. Jamie Donaldson is playing very well, and there's some good players up there so it won't be easy," he added. "It's important for me to get off to a good start, and hopefully I can take more of the chances which come my way over the weekend."
Among the players on 7 under is Soren Kjeldsen, who was one of the leaders for much of the day but bogeyed the 17th for a level-par round, while Ireland's Shane Lowry is also one behind following a 70.