Quiros leads Michael Hoey by two at halfway stage in Sicily

Gary Hurley cards 66 to move up leaderboard; Mike Weir set to end run of missed cuts

Michael Hoey during the second round of The Rocco Forte Open at The Verdura Golf and Spa Resort in Sicily, Italy. Photograph: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Michael Hoey, who came so close to a first ever 59 on the European Tour on Thursday, will start Saturday’s third round of the Rocco Forte Open in Italy two shots behind Alvaro Quiros.

On a day that saw former US Masters champion Mike Weir make his first halfway cut since November 2014, Hoey added a second round of 68 to reach 13 under par before Quiros birdied his final four holes to add a 64 to his opening 63 and reach 15 under.

Hoey, chasing a first European Tour since the Russian Open in 2013, was joined on 13 under by Sweden’s Sebastian Soderberg while Gary Hurley moved up the leaderboard after a bogey-free 66 saw him get to nine under.

It was a landmark day for Weir, the Canadian recovering from a triple-bogey on the 18th - his eighth hole of the day - to card a second round of 70 at Verdura Golf Club and finish right on the cut mark of five under par.


That was 10 shots off the halfway lead held by Quiros, but simply making the weekend for the first time in 34 events represents a step in the right direction for the former world number three. Weir, who has slumped to 1,907th in the rankings, has struggled for form ever since undergoing elbow surgery in 2011 and announced in July 2015 that he was taking an indefinite leave of absence from golf for family reasons.

The left-hander does not have any status on the PGA Tour and after missing the cut at Augusta National for the sixth time in the last seven years, also made early exits from European Tour events in Morocco and Portugal. After an opening 67, Weir started his second round with birdies on the 12th and 16th before running up a triple-bogey seven on the 18th.

However, the 47-year-old bounced back to record three birdies and a solitary bogey on his back nine to qualify for the final two rounds.

After winning twice on the European Tour in 2011, Quiros was ranked 21st in the world but after trying to make swing changes he has gradually slipped to his current position of 703rd and missed 15 cuts in 23 events last season.

“It’s a very nice situation for me, it’s a long time since I’ve had the opportunity,” Quiros said. “My game today was a little bit worse than yesterday, but my putting on the back nine was unbelievable so I’m very happy with it. Sometimes I’ve been very greedy trying to force myself into a better score when the game wasn’t good and today I have to be proud of myself.

“(Starting with) eight consecutive pars was a typical situation for me to blow my mind because I’m not shooting low, and today was a big step forward, mentally speaking, in trying to be patient.”

Quiros has committed to playing mainly on the Challenge Tour this season in an effort to regain his European Tour card and added: “I’m not going to fix my situation in one day or in one tournament, so hopefully I can keep working, still adding good rounds and at the end of the year come back to the Tour.” England’s David Horsey and South African Zander Lombard lie three shots off the pace after rounds of 66 and 68 respectively, with 2011 Sicilian Open winner Raphael Jacquelin another stroke back alongside Mark Foster and Jose-Filipe Lima.

Jacquelin’s 62 was the joint-lowest round of the day and the same score from American Julian Suri remarkably saw him make the cut on five under after a 13-shot improvement on his opening 75.