Jon Rahm poised to strike again in Spanish Open

World number one lies in second place behind surprise leader Besseling while young Murphy makes halfway cut

It’s all about grabbing opportunities when they arise.

Wil Besseling, a 35-year-old Dutchman who has navigated a route through mini- and development tours for much of his professional life and searching for a breakthrough win on the European Tour, reached the midpoint of the Spanish Open at Club de Campo in Madrid with the 36-holes lead on 13-under-par 129.

For Besseling, ranked 266th in the world, such dizzy heights of topping the leaderboard carried with it a mixed blessing for the man in closest pursuit emerged as world number one Jon Rahm, who is seeking a hat-trick of titles in his national championship.

Others, too, had their eyes on a strong weekend of contention; and none more so that Corkman John Murphy who, just a matter of monthss into his professional career, carded a second successive 68 for 136 to lie in tied-27th position and aiming for further upward momentum.

"I'm trying to finish as high up there as I can and see where that takes me," said the 23-year-old from Kinsale – who turned professional after playing in the Walker Cup and completing his studies at the University of Louisville – who showed his intent of making his presence in Madrid count.

Murphy, who earned his ticker into the tournament via a top-10 finish in last week's Alfred Dunhill Links, where he'd made the most of a sponsor's invitation, again demonstrated how well he has adjusted to the professional game in overcoming a poor start which saw him two over through four holes of his second round (starting on the 10th) by responding with a hat-trick of birdies from the 14th.

“I just did my best to stay in the present, to keep making good swings. It’s something I have been working on and good gold usually comes from that,” Murphy explained of his recovery.

In all, Murphy had seven birdies and four bogeys in his round but has some work to do over the weekend to achieve that target of another top-10 which would in turn earn him a place in next week’s Andalucia Masters in Valderrama.

Besseling, bogey-free through 36 holes, finished tied-fourth in the Austrian Open earlier in the season and will need to maintain that hot form – 13 birdies in 36 holes – over the weekend if he is to have any chance of holding off his pursuers, led by Rahm.

Missed the cut

Both Jonathan Caldwell and Cormac Sharvin missed the cut. Sharvin has now missed nine of the last 10 cuts and is in a late fight to retain his card for next season with only regular tournaments left on the schedule.

In the Shriners Children's Open in Las Vegas on the PGA Tour, Sam Burns took a big step towards securing titles in successive weeks.

Winner of the Sanderson Farms tournament last Sunday, Burns added a stunning 63 to his opening 66 for a midway total of 13-under-par 129 to claim the club house lead, two shots clear of Andrew Putnam, Adam Hadwin and Matt Jones.

Graeme McDowell, making his first appearance of the wraparound 2021/’22 season, ensured his presence for the weekend in adding a second round 66 to his opening 70 for a midway total of 136, six-under, while Séamus Power (who opened with a 66) was in the second wave of play.

Unfortunately for Leona Maguire, her run of nine straight made cuts on the LPGA Tour – dating back to the LA Open – came to an end in the Cognizant Founders Cup at Mountain Ridge in New Jersey where the Cavan golfer had rounds of 75-74 for 149 to miss a rare weekend on tour.

Stephanie Meadow, however, made it into the weekend with rounds of 70-71 for 141 which left her five shots adrift of early clubhouse leaders Xiyu Lin, Chella Choi and Jenny Shin. Olivia Mehaffey (who shot 71 in her first round) was among the later starters.

Madrid leaderboard

British and Irish unless stated, par 71

129 Wil Besseling (Ned) 64 65
130 Jon Rahm (Esp) 63 67
131 Shubhankar Sharma (Ind) 67 64, Ross McGowan 61 70, Adria Arnaus (Esp) 67 64
132 Rafael Cabrera (Esp) 67 65, Grant Forrest 65 67, Julien Guerrier (Fra) 66 66
133 Pablo Larrazabal (Esp) 67 66, Marc Warren 66 67, Matthew Jordan 68 65
134 Lucas Bjerregaard (Den) 66 68, Joachim B. Hansen (Den) 68 66, Santiago Tarrio (Esp) 66 68, Scott Jamieson 66 68, Joakim Lagergren (Swe) 65 69, David Drysdale 64 70, Jazz Janewattananond (Tha) 67 67, Jamie Donaldson 64 70, Jack Senior 67 67
135 Mikko Korhonen (Fin) 69 66, David Puig (Esp) 68 67, Fabrizio Zanotti (Pry) 69 66, Victor Dubuisson (Fra) 67 68, Sebastian Garcia (Esp) 62 73, Aaron Cockerill (Can) 66 69
136 Wilco Nienaber (Rsa) 71 65, Min-Woo Lee (Aus) 67 69, Steven Brown 68 68, Alexander Levy (Fra) 72 64, Ryan Fox (Nzl) 65 71, John Murphy 68 68, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (Esp) 68 68, Michael Lorenzo-Vera (Fra) 67 69, David Horsey 66 70, Connor Syme 67 69, Darren Fichardt (Rsa) 70 66, Jean-Baptiste Gonnet (Fra) 68 68
137 Bernd Wiesberger (Aut) 70 67, Richard Bland 69 68, Jorge Campillo (Esp) 67 70, Daniel Gavins 69 68, Marcus Armitage 69 68, Andy Sullivan 67 70, Renato Paratore (Ita) 67 70, Jacobo Pastor (Esp) 71 66, Jordan Smith 66 71, Edoardo Molinari (Ita) 67 70, Ashley Chesters 71 66, Thomas Aiken (Rsa) 69 68, Adrian Meronk (Pol) 69 68, David Coupland 68 69, Niklas Lemke (Swe) 68 69
138 Calum Hill 70 68, Adrian Otaegui (Esp) 68 70, George Coetzee (Rsa) 69 69, Graeme Storm 71 67, Richie Ramsay 69 69, Andrew Johnston 70 68, Alvaro Quiros (Esp) 71 67, Nino Bertasio (Ita) 67 71, Soren Kjeldsen (Den) 69 69, Francesco Laporta (Ita) 67 71, Darius van Driel (Ned) 67 71, Robin Sciot-Siegrist (Fra) 65 73
139 Nicolai Hoejgaard (Den) 73 66, Ashun Wu (Chn) 66 73, Haotong Li (Chn) 68 71, Antoine Rozner (Fra) 67 72, David Law 70 69, Jason Scrivener (Aus) 71 68, Zander Lombard (Rsa) 72 67, Kalle Samooja (Fin) 67 72, Chris Paisley 70 69, Justin Walters (Rsa) 71 68, Ross Fisher 69 70, Maximilian Kieffer (Ger) 71 68, Lorenzo Gagli (Ita) 70 69, Luke Donald 69 70, Oliver Farr 72 67

Missed cut

140 Eddie Pepperell 70 70, Romain Langasque (Fra) 66 74, Gavin Green (Mal) 70 70, Jeff Winther (Den) 72 68, Tapio Pulkkanen (Fin) 69 71, Matthieu Pavon (Fra) 68 72, James Morrison 72 68, Joel Stalter (Fra) 70 70, Dale Whitnell 69 71, Alejandro Canizares (Esp) 69 71
141 Sami Valimaki (Fin) 70 71, Jonathan Caldwell 73 68, Oliver Wilson 73 68, Raphael Jacquelin (Fra) 69 72
142 Scott Hend (Aus) 73 69, Justin Harding (Rsa) 75 67, Ignacio Elvira (Esp) 70 72, John Catlin (USA) 70 72, Matthias Schmid (Ger) 69 73, Samuel Del Val (Esp) 71 71, Benjamin Hebert (Fra) 73 69, Masahiro Kawamura (Jpn) 71 71, Sean Crocker (USA) 70 72, Haydn Porteous (Rsa) 71 71, Garrick Porteous 70 72, Sihwan Kim (USA) 70 72
143 Kristoffer Broberg (Swe) 73 70, Guido Migliozzi (Ita) 74 69, Joel Moscatel (Esp) 71 72, Matthew Southgate 75 68, Julian Suri (USA) 73 70, Robin Roussel (Fra) 70 73, Ricardo Santos (Por) 70 73
144 Victor Perez (Fra) 71 73, Sebastian Soederberg (Swe) 72 72, Daniel van Tonder (Rsa) 71 73, Oliver Fisher 72 72, Gaganjeet Bhullar (Ind) 75 69, Rikard Karlberg (Swe) 72 72
145 Richard McEvoy 74 71, Pep Angles (Esp) 75 70, Cormac Sharvin 75 70
146 Thorbjoern Olesen (Den) 70 76, Marcus Kinhult (Swe) 74 72, Eduardo de la Riva (Esp) 74 72
147 Carlos Molina (Esp) 73 74, David Howell 74 73, Maverick Antcliff (Aus) 74 73
148 Andrea Pavan (Ita) 77 71
151 Alfonso Buendia (Esp) 77 74
152 Gordan Brixi (Cze) 74 78

Philip Reid

Philip Reid

Philip Reid is Golf Correspondent of The Irish Times

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