Ireland’s Paul Dunne is in pole position to claim a second European Tour title after establishing a healthy lead at the halfway stage of the Open de Espana.
Dunne, who held off Rory McIlroy to win the British Masters at Close House in October, carded nine birdies and two bogeys to add a 65 to his opening 66 at the Centro Nacional de Golf near Madrid.
At 13 under par, Dunne leads by three shots from Spain’s Nacho Elvira, England’s Callum Shinkwin and Australia’s Brett Rumford, with world No. 4 Jon Rahm a shot further back alongside Scotland’s Marc Warren, England’s Robert Rock and Sweden’s Henric Sturehed.
“It was one of those days, I wasn’t really thinking about the score and the score kind of built on itself,” Dunne told Sky Sports.
“Turns out all three of us in the group shot seven under so it was an enjoyable day. The conditions were a lot better and playing early we had better greens than we did yesterday.
“I think those late-early starts are good when you’re playing well; when you feel good about your game the short turnaround is nice. You just finish your round, bit of dinner, straight to bed and you’re up and going again. I think I benefited from that a little bit.
“The game is in good shape, I’m feeling good, I feel confident around this course, so hopefully a couple more good rounds and give myself a chance.”
Dunne posted top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour in his last two events and added: “It’s been trending the right way for a while and I have a nice run of events here in Europe over the next few weeks as well, so I’m looking forward to that.”
Pre-tournament favourite Rahm, who finished fourth in the Masters on Sunday, started his second round with an eagle on the opening hole and also carded four birdies, but had to settle for a 68 after pulling his approach to the 12th into the water.
“I can’t remember a round where I’ve hit it tee to green as good as I did today,” Rahm told Sky Sports. “I only made one mistake on number 12, but besides that tee to green was outstanding.
“The driving is about as good as I’m going to hit it, ever. It’s just too bad it was the same as yesterday, I wasn’t able to make the putts.”
England’s Andrew Johnston, who won the title in 2016 and is the defending champion as no event was staged last year, is five off the pace after back-to-back rounds of 68.