Molinari, Jimenez among leaders in Bahrain

Edoardo Molinari

Edoardo Molinari

RIFFA, Bahrain – Miguel Angel Jimenez improvised to grab a share of a four-way tie for the lead at the Volvo Champions on Friday, overcoming a broken putter by using a lob wedge to make three birdie putts in a 7-under 65.

The Spaniard was tied at 11-under 133 with Edoardo Molinari of Italy and Raphael Jacquelin of France, who also had 65s, and Peter Hanson, who shot a 67. The Swede missed a chance for the outright lead after a bogey on No. 8, his 17th hole, at the Royal Golf Club.

The leaders were one stroke ahead of Stephen Gallacher of Scotland, who shot 64, the day’s best round, Paul Casey of England (67), Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland (65) and James Kingston (67) of South Africa.

There were 25 players within three shots of the lead after two rounds of the new European Tour event.

After the severity of the greens came in for heavy criticism, particularly from Casey and Ian Poulter, generous pin positions and receptive greens after a slight early morning drizzle allowed players to aim for the flag.

But not for the 46-year-old Jimenez early on.

Disgusted with missing several short putts, the Spaniard snapped his putter in two on the 13th hole.

What could have dropped him out of contention instead helped him find his groove as he used his lob wedge to make three birdie putts coming in, including a 15-footer on the 16th.

“I played so good today and I had so many chances for birdie,” Jimenez said. “I missed like three-foot putts a few times, so I just slammed the putter and, unfortunately, the bag came in the way!

“I am now thinking that I putted so well with the lob wedge, whether I should keep it for tomorrow’s round, too.”

Molinari started with six birdies in his first six holes, then parred his way through before making a birdie on the final hole.

Jacquelin putted well in pursuit of his first win since 2007 in Shanghai, making eight birdies and a bogey in his round.

Overnight leader Johan Edfors (71) of Sweden fell into a tie for ninth place at 9-under 135, where he was joined by Edoardo’s younger brother, Francesco.

Sergio Garcia made a birdie on his final hole to join a group of six players at 136.

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