Graeme McDowell one shot off the lead in Italian Open

A 63 gives Martin Kaymer a one stroke lead in Brescia as Paul Dunne makes the cut

Graeme McDowell tees off on the 16th hole during day two of the Italian Open at Gardagolf CC in Brescia. Photograph: Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Graeme McDowell tees off on the 16th hole during day two of the Italian Open at Gardagolf CC in Brescia. Photograph: Andrew Redington/Getty Images

 

Martin Kaymer surged into contention for his first victory in four years as several of Europe’s star names rediscovered their top form in the Italian Open.

Kaymer, whose last win brought him a second major title in the 2014 US Open, carded a second round of 63 at Gardagolf to finish 11 under par, a shot ahead of Graeme McDowell, Danny Willett, Thomas Pieters, Rafa Cabrera-Bello and home favourite Francesco Molinari.

But after another day of low scoring, the entire field will be separated by just seven shots heading into the weekend, with the halfway cut falling at four under par.

“It’s been a while since I played that solid,” Kaymer said after a round which included five straight birdies from the 13th.

“I think I was getting very close recently but that positivity was missing on the golf course because I haven’t had a lot of good results.

“It doesn’t matter if you’ve won majors and had the situations I had at the Ryder Cup, it’s really exciting to be in a position that you can win a golf tournament again.”

McDowell’s last win came in 2015 and he was named as a Ryder Cup vice-captain last week, but the former US Open champion has not given up hope of qualifying for the team instead after missing out in 2016.

“My head will be down this weekend and I will be grinding really hard,” McDowell said after a 66. “There’s a lot of really great players in this field.

“I’ll have to play well to win. It would do a lot for me, would do a lot for my summer, a lot for my Ryder Cup bid and a lot for my confidence in general.”

Further down the leaderboard Paul Dunne ensured his challenge continues into the weekend as he carded a second consecutive 69 to leave him right on the four under par cut mark.

He lies a shot behind Pádraig Harrington, who made five birdies during his blemish-free 66 on Friday.

Former Masters champion Willett reached a career-high of ninth in the world after claiming his first major title at Augusta National in 2016, but has since plummeted to 462nd after struggling with injuries and a loss of form.

The 30-year-old had missed the cut in all but one of his nine starts in 2018, but added a 67 to his opening 65 and has yet to drop a shot this week.

“I haven’t made a cut for a while so to actually be this side of the leaderboard is pretty nice,” Willett said.

“I’ve been working really hard and I’ve not been getting any results and you just have to keep your head down and hope that you get a couple of days like this under your belt.”

Molinari’s second consecutive error-free 66 means he has now gone 80 holes without a bogey, his last dropped shot coming on the 10th hole of the second round during his BMW PGA Championship victory at Wentworth.

“I’m trying not to think about it,” insisted Molinari, who is seeking a third victory in his national Open.

“In the end, it’s better to make a bogey and a few more birdies. I’m trying to stay aggressive and do my best.

“It’s a course where a lot of people are up at the top of the leaderboard, so it’s going to be I think a bit of a birdie-fest at the weekend and I need to be ready for it.”

Italian Open collated scores

131 Martin Kaymer (Ger) 68 63
132 Francesco Molinari (Ita) 66 66, Graeme McDowell 66 66, Danny Willett 65 67, Rafael Cabrera-Bello (Spa) 65 67, Thomas Pieters (Bel) 65 67
133 Haotong Li (Can) 68 65, Robert Rock 63 70, Thorbjorn Olesen (Den) 65 68, Erik Van Rooyen (Rsa) 65 68, Jens Dantorp (Swe) 68 65
134 Richard Bland 70 64, Scott Hend (Aus) 68 66, Matteo Manassero (Ita) 66 68, Dylan Frittelli (Rsa) 67 67, Hideto Tanihara (Jp) 67 67
135 David Howell 69 66, Darren Fichardt (Rsa) 66 69, Lee Slattery 66 69, James Morrison 67 68, Adrien Saddier (Fra) 68 67, Laurie Canter 63 72, Andrew Sullivan 67 68, Tommy Fleetwood 68 67, David Lipsky (USA) 68 67, Ian Poulter 67 68, Jordan Smith 67 68, Thomas Detry (Bel) 69 66, Richard Sterne (Rsa) 63 72
136 Charlie Ford 65 71, Daniel Im (USA) 66 70, Jorge Campillo (Spa) 68 68, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (Spa) 70 66, Oliver Fisher 68 68, David Drysdale 68 68, Adam Bland (Aus) 70 66, Ryan Evans 67 69, Matthew Fitzpatrick 66 70, Bradley Dredge 68 68, Lee Westwood 66 70
137 Thomas Aiken (Rsa) 69 68, Matt Wallace 65 72, Ashun Wu (Can) 70 67, Josh Geary (Nzl) 68 69, Jacques Kruyswijk (Rsa) 67 70, Dean Burmester (Rsa) 70 67, Austin Connelly (Can) 69 68, Wade Ormsby (Aus) 66 71, Adrian Otaegui (Spa) 68 69, Gregory Havret (Fra) 68 69, Mike Lorenzo-Vera (Fra) 66 71, Callum Shinkwin 66 71, Ryan Fox (Nzl) 69 68, Julien Guerrier (Fra) 70 67, Andres Romero (Ar) 67 70, Lorenzo Gagli (Ita) 68 69, Ross McGowan 70 67, Padraig Harrington 71 66
138 Andrew Johnston 69 69, Soren Kjeldsen (Den) 70 68, Brandon Stone (Rsa) 69 69, Aaron Rai 67 71, Scott Jamieson 69 69, Jason Scrivener (Aus) 67 71, Peter Hanson (Swe) 68 70, Alexander Levy (Fra) 68 70, Paul Dunne 69 69, Eddie Pepperell 67 71, Benjamin Hebert (Fra) 70 68, Nacho Elvira (Spa) 69 69, Gavin Green (Mal) 71 67, Lucas Bjerregaard (Den) 68 70, Chris Wood 67 71, Alex Noren (Swe) 70 68, Haydn Porteous (Rsa) 70 68, Daniel Brooks 67 71, Matthias Schwab (Aut) 67 71, Brett Rumford (Aus) 70 68, Trevor Immelman (Rsa) 69 69, Jeunghun Wang (Kor) 68 70, Miguel Angel Jimenez (Spa) 68 70, Jamie Donaldson 66 72, Fabrizio Zanotti (Par) 69 69
139 Ross Fisher 65 74, Mikko Ilonen (Fin) 70 69, Sebastian Heisele (Ger) 71 68, Filippo Bergamaschi (Ita) 71 68, Mikko Korhonen (Fin) 68 71, Matthew Southgate 71 68, Thongchai Jaidee (Tha) 71 68, Felipe Aguilar (Chi) 70 69, Sebastien Gros (Fra) 71 68, Marc Warren 68 71, Connor Syme 68 71, Gregory Bourdy (Fra) 70 69, Pedro Oriol (Spa) 70 69
140 Ricardo Gouveia (Por) 72 68, Stephen Gallacher 69 71, Alexander Bjork (Swe) 71 69, Guido Migliozzi (Spa) 72 68, Ashley Chesters 67 73, Jin-ho Choi (Kor) 71 69
141 Marcus Kinhult (Swe) 69 72, Richie Ramsay 67 74, George Coetzee (Rsa) 70 71, Chris Paisley 71 70, Alvaro Quiros (Spa) 71 70, Phachara Khongwatmai (Tha) 69 72, Jason Norris (Aus) 69 72, Chase Koepka (USA) 72 69, Sam Horsfield 69 72, Chris Hanson 71 70, Andrea Pavan (Ita) 69 72, Tyrrell Hatton 72 69, Marcus Fraser (Aus) 74 67
142 Romain Wattel (Fra) 71 71, Lasse Jensen (Den) 70 72, Clement Sordet (Fra) 69 73, Nicolas Colsaerts (Bel) 74 68, Mark Foster 71 71, Luca Cianchetti (Ita) 69 73, Nino Bertasio (Ita) 69 73
143 Matthieu Pavon (Fra) 72 71, Paul Waring 68 75, Joakim Lagergren (Swe) 68 75, Andrew Dodt (Aus) 72 71, Francesco Laporta (Ita) 71 72, Raphael Jacquelin (Fra) 68 75
144 Steven Brown 71 73, Pontus Widegren (Swe) 69 75, S.S.P Chawrasia (In) 73 71, Jeff Winther (Den) 69 75, Maximilian Kieffer (Ger) 71 73, David Horsey 72 72, Christiaan Bezuidenhout (Rsa) 73 71, Edoardo Molinari (Ita) 76 68
145 Marcel Siem (Ger) 72 73, James Heath 72 73, Sam Brazel (Aus) 70 75
146 Robert Karlsson (Swe) 70 76, Tapio Pulkkanen (Fin) 74 72 ,Rak hyun Cho (Kor) 71 75, Bradley Neil 73 73
147 Jacopo Vecchi-Fossa (Ita) 74 73, Scott Fernandez (Spa) 71 76, Soomin Lee (Kor) 70 77
148 Nico Geyger (Chi) 74 74, Pep Angles (Spa) 73 75
149 Federico Maccario (Ita) 75 74, Enrico Di Nitto (Ita) 74 75, Oliver Farr 77 72
150 Matthew Baldwin 75 75
151 Carlos Pigem (Spa) 72 79, Renato Paratore (Ita) 73 78
154 Zander Lombard (Rsa) 78 76

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