Sun, Jul 01, 2018 - Page 11 News List

Sweden’s Kinhult rallies to take lead at Open de France

Reuters

A remarkable transformation on Friday lifted young Swede Marcus Kinhult to a two-stroke halfway lead of the Open de France after a stunning comeback from a wretched start to the tournament.

Kinhult, ranked 183rd in the world, carded a second-round six-under-par 65, the low score of the week at Le Golf National in Paris, where punishing rough and numerous water hazards make for a stern test.

He posted a six-under 136 total to head Englishman Chris Wood (68) by two strokes, with Spanish world No. 5 Jon Rahm (69) and first-round leader Bradley Dredge of Wales (73) three back.

American Justin Thomas (70) joined a group of four trailing by four shots, but last year’s champion, Tommy Fleetwood, missed the cut, the Englishman perhaps weary playing his third week in a row, including a runner-up finish at the US Open.

According to the European Tour, Kinhult is the first player to take a halfway lead after starting a tournament with four straight bogeys.

Even a bogey at the last did not detract from the quality of the 21-year-old’s performance.

“I got off to a great start and played well from there,” said Kinhult, who picked up four strokes in the first four holes, including an eagle at the par-five third.

“I was six-under on the front nine, which is great so, yeah, happy,” he added.

World No. 2 Thomas was disappointed not to be closer to the lead given the quality of his performance in his first appearance in the event.

“It was one of the better rounds I’ve had in a while,” Thomas said.

“I had total control of my ball, drove it beautifully, hit some really, really quality iron shots,” he said.

“The greens are a little bumpy in the afternoon, so that made it difficult to make some putts, but I stayed patient and was able to make a couple,” he added.

A double-bogey at the 17th marred an otherwise mistake-free day, a blemish he blamed on a “freaky little wind” switch that carried his ball into a hazard.

Thomas is playing the event ahead of the Ryder Cup at the same venue in three months, when he will be part of a talent-laden US team taking on Europe.

The Open de France is the first of three consecutive US$7 million events in the European Tour’s Rolex Series.

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