Golf: Belgian tyro Pieters in share of PGA lead

Pieters watches his drive from the second tee on the second day of the golf PGA Championship at Wentworth.
Pieters watches his drive from the second tee on the second day of the golf PGA Championship at Wentworth.PHOTO: AFP

WENTWORTH, United Kingdom (AFP) - Belgian star Thomas Pieters, Scotland's Scott Jamieson and Francesco Molinari of Italy will go into the last two rounds of the European PGA Championship in a three-way tie for the lead.

The trio were on 137, seven-under par, after 36 holes, on Friday (May 26), a shot clear of Germany's Max Kieffer and three ahead of a clutch of players including 2015 winner An Byeong-Hun of South Korea and Lee Westwood who is looking to win this title at his 24th attempt.

Also in that group were South Africa's Branden Grace, who shrugged off his first-round free drop controversy to card a 71, and British Open champion Henrik Stenson.

England's Olympic champion Justin Rose made sure of his place in the last two rounds with a dramatic eagle at the par-5 18th which took him to two-over for the tournament.

But Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who shot a first round 67, dropped down the field with a 75 to finish two-under heading into the last two days.

Jamieson got off to a torrid start after Thursday's 67 as he dropped three shots in the first three holes but a run of seven birdies in nine holes from the fourth saw him back up with the leaders.

"It's a tough stretch of the golf course, the first three holes, especially the way the wind was blowing today," he said.

"The last thing you need to do in that situation is panic." .

'IT WAS PATHETIC, IT REALLY WAS'

Molinari had a putt for the outright lead on the 18th but his eagle effort just drifted wide and he had to settle for a 70, two-under par whilst Pieters played solid golf for his 69.

Molinari was another to have a shaky opening - he was out in 36, one-over par, but three birdies on the back nine kept him in the leading group and on course to keep up his impressive record here where he has had four top-10 finishes.

Pieters had the best round of the leading three coming home in 35, which included two birdies and no bogeys.

Sweden's Johan Carlsson who led the field after 18 holes was another to struggle as the wind gathered pace in the afternoon and he finished with a 73 but is still in the hunt.

Westwood was left to rue missed birdie chances at the two closing par-5s but was happy with his game after a tutorial from renowned coach Pete Cowen earlier this week.

"It's good. I did a little work with Pete on the range on Tuesday," said the 44-year-old veteran.

"I'm starting to feel better about the way I've been swinging it. He gave me a couple of tips and I've hit the ball well and kept it straight off the tee." Earlier England's Ian Poulter had rescued his weekend by carding a three-under par 69 for a two-round total of 145, one-over par, to make the cut after his poor opening round.

But Poulter was still not happy - he felt his approach play deserved better and he was let down on the greens where he took 34 putts.

"I don't know how to describe how poor I thought it was," he said.

"It was pathetic, it really was. It was unacceptable.

"The putting is not good enough. My game's in shape. I've hit 17 greens in regulation today on a tricky golf course." Germany's Martin Kaymer was the biggest name to miss the cut - the two-time major winner finished five-over par for the two rounds.