Trio share halfway lead at WentworthPlayers, spectators and officials were all decked out in blue at the BMW PGA Championship to honour Seve Ballesteros - and much of the scoring was the same colour on a testing second day at Wentworth Club.
Overnight leader Luke Donald – so immaculate in his sparkling 64 on day one – compiled a one over par 72, despite far calmer weather conditions.
Tees were put back and some stiff pin placements kept scoring in check all day, and Donald’s six under par total kept him in the lead – albeit shared with big-hitting Alvaro Quiros and Italian teenager Matteo Manassero.
Lee Westwood, needing to finish ahead of Donald to prevent his compatriot snatching the World Number One spot, reduced the arrears from eight shots to five with a two under par 69.
Manassero continued to belie his tender years with a composed one under par round, and his maturity certainly enthused Donald.
“I'm impressed with him in general,” said the 33 year old. “I think to have done as well as he has done at such a young age is very impressive. I suppose he has a somewhat similar game to me - he doesn't overpower courses.”
Quiros produced an impressive 67 - only Martin Wiegele's 65 was better - and the Spaniard was delighted to rocket up the leaderboard with birdies at his last three holes on a day dedicated to his compatriot.
The Omega Dubai Desert Classic winner produced some touches of Seve magic over the closing stretch, holing a monster putt at the 16th, chipping in at the next and finishing with a magnificent bunker shot to five feet.
“It's halfway - we still have two rounds to play and a lot of things good and bad to do,” he said. “I hit a few really bad shots from the tee, but at the same time, I holed two or three very long putts, which in general, I've been always on the proper side of the green if I miss it, except on 17.
“I've been playing very, very safe, so I think it's a good thing, having in consideration the bad weather and the greens, how hard are the greens, they are tough and quick. It's a good strategy, probably is giving me bonuses without hitting the ball great.”
Manassero, who praised the record 25,472 people in attendance for their support, had a close shave at the last when, after going for the green in two, his approach clipped a tree and bounced inches from the water. Not only did the 18 year old survive, but he went on to make birdie.
“I didn't deserve to be there, a bit lucky to not go in the water, I admit that,” he said. “But the way I played that, it was two shots. I played it well - I've been a bit unlucky and then lucky with the bounce, because it could have been in the water, and I was still chipping 30 yards away with not a very difficult chip.
“I'm happy about 70 today - it wasn't easy. The flags I think were trickier and it was a more difficult course. Even if it wasn't as windy as yesterday, it wasn't easy to score, and not many low scoring today.
“So I'm happy about my round, especially because I haven't played as well as yesterday but I still shoot under par, which is important on a course like this.
“It was a very big crowd today. It was a great day, I had so much crowd, it's big fun. It happens just one time on The European Tour, and it's in Wentworth - that's why I think it's so special.”
South African Thomas Aiken matched Quiros’ 67 to claim a share of fourth place alongside BMW International Open winner David Horsey and Spain’s José Manuel Lara on four under par.
LUKE DONALD – 136 (-6)
Second consecutive year he has led after 36 holes. His opening 36 hole total was the same as 12 months ago.
MATTEO MANASSERO – 136 (-6)
First Italian to lead the Championship since Costantino Rocca won in 1996. Aged 18 years and 38 days is the youngest player to lead or share the lead in BMW PGA Championship history.
ALAVARO QUIROS – 136 (-6)
His round of 67 is his lowest in the BMW PGA Championship.
THOMAS AIKEN – 138 (-4)
Looking to win for the second time this season, following the Open de Espana. Should he win, it would be South Africa’s 100th European Tour win.
MARTIN WIEGELE 142 (L)
His second round of 65 (-6) is the lowest of the day.
GREIG HUTCHEON – 145 (+3)
Is the leading club professional after 36 holes.
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