Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger took advantage of calm morning conditions yesterday at the Blackstone Golf Club to fire a blemish-free seven-under 65 and take the clubhouse lead at the Ballantine’s Championship.
The 26-year-old world No. 170 recorded seven birdies and not a single bogey to card a seven-under par total at the halfway stage of the tournament, one ahead of Marcus Fraser of Australia.
“You know I got the odd break on the back nine,” Wiesberger said. “I holed a long putt on five [his 14th hole as he started on the 10th] and a chip-in at the last, which, you know, is a bonus. But some of these days it all comes together and it was one of them today.”
Fraser is bidding to become the first double winner of this championship, which is celebrating its fifth anniversary this year, having won the title in 2010 when it was played on Jeju Island.
The 33 year-old Australian carded a five-under par 67 to move to six-under at the halfway stage, one ahead of Sweden’s Oscar Floren.
However, lurking within a few shots of the clubhouse lead and well placed for a weekend assault on the title, is seasoned European Tour player Miguel Angel Jimenez of Spain, the runner-up here last year. He stands at four-under par after a 68.
Just two shots further back are English duo Paul Casey and Ian Poulter, who are both on two-under after a 72 and 67 respectively.
Asked what it was about the Ballantine’s Championship that brought the best out of him, Fraser said: “It’s obviously just the alcohol — I can’t really survive without it.”
Jimenez feels he has put himself in with a great chance of going one better than last year following a four-under par 68 yesterday morning, and believes the leaders will be looking over their shoulders at the chasing pack.
“Well I feel nice, I feel calm and I feel peace and they [the leaders] don’t feel very good because they can feel my breath on their necks,” he said.
Floren was level par for his round and the tournament with five holes to play, but in a remarkable finish shot birdies at the 14th, 16th and 17th and capped it in tremendous style with an eagle three at the 18th.
England’s Anthony Wall and Chile’s Felipe Aguilar were also in the clubhouse on four-under after the morning rounds.