British Masters: Beef trails Bland by one at halfway stage

Richard Bland leads Andrew Johnston and Alex Noren by one at The Grove. 

Andy Roberts's picture
Fri, 14 Oct 2016
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England's Richard Bland has yet to make a bogey after 36 holes at The Grove (Photo: Getty Images) 

Richard Bland carded a superb second-round 64 to take the outright lead late in the afternoon on day two of the British Masters supported by Sky Sports. 

After a solid opening nine of 34, the in-form Englishman blitzed the back nine in 30 shots to take a narrow one-shot lead on 11-under over home favourite Andrew Johnston and Sweden's Alex Noren.

Bland, 43, may still be searching for an elusive European Tour title but he is currently in the form of his life following five consecutive top-20 finishes, with three of those tournaments resulting in top-sevens. 

"I've holed out fantastically well, not only these last two days but probably over the last three or four months," said Bland. 

"If I can keep that going, hopefully I'll be there on Sunday."
 

Andrew Johnston and Alex Noren lie one shot behind heading into the weekend (Photo; Getty Images) 

Johnston and Noren may have both shot solid rounds of 65s alongside one another, but they walked off their final hole - the par-4 ninth - with differing emotions as Johnston made birdie in contrast to Noren's dismal double bogey. 

2ND ROUND LEADERBOARD

-11 R Bland (Eng)
-10 A Johnston (Eng), A Noren (Swe)
-9 S Jamieson (Sco), T Fleetwood, A Wall (Eng)
-8 T Hatton, C Wood (Eng), R Sterne (SA), B Wiesberger (Aut)
-7 L Westwood (Eng), M Warren (Scot), P Hanson (Swe)

"I'm very happy," said Johnston, who won the Spanish Open in April before turning into an overnight sensation. 

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"I thought I played well yesterday in the wind and managed to make a few more birdies today."

Despite the disastrous finish for Noren, which saw him take four shots from the side of the ninth green, the in-form Swede who won the European Masters last month is remaining calm.

"Sometimes it goes like that," said Noren, who reached 12-under before making double at his final hole.

"I'm happy about today. I played a lot better than yesterday."
 

Last week's winner Tyrrell Hatton has the leaders in his sights at 8-under (Photo: Getty Images) 

But it is by no means a three-horse race heading into the weekend with 16 players sitting within five shots of the lead, of which most are household names on the European Tour. 

England's Tommy Fleetwood recovered from three early bogeys to card a 67 for a 9-under total alongside compatriot Anthony Wall and Scotland's Scott Jamieson, who each fired 65s. 

Then comes a star-studded group of players on 8-under with BMW PGA champion Chris Wood, last week's Dunhill Links champion Tyrrell Hatton and in-form Austrian Bernd Wiesberger, who all flew around in rounds of 66, as well as last week's runner-up Richard Sterne, who posted a 68.

England's Lee Westwood sits a further shot back on 7-under after a 68, joining Sweden's Peter Hanson and Scotland's Marc Warren. 

Former US Open champion Graeme McDowell (68) sits five adrift on 6-under with France's Alex Levy, (66) winner of the Hero Challenge, and big-hitting Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts (67).

Tournament host Luke Donald missed the cut on 5-over following rounds of 77 and 70. 

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