Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Espana out in Front in the Open De Espana; 'I Played Really Good and It's Cool Seeing My Name Everywhere'

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Espana out in Front in the Open De Espana; 'I Played Really Good and It's Cool Seeing My Name Everywhere'

Article excerpt

Byline: Phil Casey

THE aptly-named Edouard Espana claimed the halfway lead in the Open de Espana as defending champion Miguel Angel Jimenez failed to make the most of a record-equalling hole-in-one.

France's Espana overcame strong winds which sent scores soaring in the afternoon to card a secondround of 69 and finish seven under par at El Prat, one shot ahead of Argentina's Ricardo Gonzalez.

Jimenez had been four under after following birdies on the second and fifth with his ninth European Tour ace - equalling the record of Colin Montgomerie - on the eighth but came home in 39 to card a 71 and finish one under.

The 51-year-old, who is known for his love of cigars and red wine, at least had the consolation of winning 288 bottles of beer for his hole-inone, which came when his six-iron pitched around 15 feet short of the pin and rolled perfectly into the hole.

Espana, 25, who graduated from the Challenge Tour last season, said: "Leading the open with my name everywhere is very cool.

"I played good today, it was very windy so it was tough to control distance and the putting was tough too but I played very well and I am really happy.

"My family is from Spain so that's why my name is Espana. My cousins are here this week so it's really good.

"It's completely different (on the European Tour), the level of tournaments are higher so I have to improve my game, my level to play good on tour and I try but it's difficult so we will see at the end of the week if I keep going.

"It's tough because there are a lot of good players, the courses are really good and difficult so you have to play well and focus on your game."

The strong afternoon winds meant pre-tournament favourite Sergio Garcia avoided a first missed cut in 11 appearances in the event, the world number seven having added a second round of 72 to his opening 75.

"I didn't feel I played that badly," said Garcia, who was a shot outside the projected cut after finishing his round with two birdies in the last six holes and a par save from a greenside bunker on the last. …

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