Nino Bertasio snatches Portugal Masters lead
Last Updated: 24/09/17 5:33pm
Nino Bertasio claimed a one-shot lead at the halfway stage of the Portugal Masters after shooting a six-under 65 in the second round in Vilamoura.
The 29-year-old Italian was one of the later starters at the Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course and moved to the top of the leaderboard on 12-under 130 as he matched Thursday's 65 thanks to six birdies.
Bertasio, who is seeking his maiden European Tour win, overtook Scotland's Marc Warren and Denmark's Lucas Bjerregaard to lead after back-to-back birdies at the sixth and seventh.
The world No 409 had earlier birdied the 12th, 14th, 16th and 17th after teeing off on the 10th.
"I'm feeling good," Bertasio said. "I had a bogey-free round and it was very easy golf. I just missed one green and I chipped it to one foot so I never really struggled to make pars."
Bjerregaard set the early clubhouse target with a 65 of his own, but was later joined on 11 under by Warren, who went one better with a seven-under 64.
The pair are one clear of Dutchman Joost Luiten (68) and Australian Jason Scrivener (67), while defending champion Padraig Harrington is four off the pace.
Bjerregaard had fired a 66 in the first round despite twice finding water, but there were no such dramas in the second round as he carded six birdies in a flawless display.
The world No 387, who is also yet to win on the European Tour, was out in only 31 after making his move with four birdies in five holes from the fourth, and he added further birdies at the 12th and 17th on the back nine.
Warren, who is ranked 483 in the world and down in 173rd place on the Race to Dubai list, began on the 10th and made a steady start with birdies on the 11th and 16th before jumping into contention with an eagle on the par-five 17th.
The 36-year-old then birdied the second, fifth and eighth on the front nine to give himself a chance of claiming his first victory since 2014 and fourth in total.
"Conditions were perfect out there," Warren told Sky Sports. "I drove the ball well and after that I was just trying to be patient really.
"The flags were tucked away and the greens were quite firm so I was pretty pleased with that side of my game - that I was really patient."
Luiten, who had shared the overnight lead with George Coetzee, was still disputing the lead with Bjerregaard on 11 under after four birdies over the opening 10 holes, but he dropped his first shot of the week after finding water on the 14th to slip off the pace.
Coetzee is one shot further back on nine under following a 69, which left him alongside fellow South African Dean Burmeister (67), English duo Eddie Pepperell (67) and Graeme Storm (66) and Ireland's Shane Lowry.
Lowry charged through the field with eight birdies in a seven-under 64 at a venue where he won his first professional tournament in 2012.
Harrington posted his second successive 67 to sit handily-placed on eight under, while Danny Willett returned to form with a six-under 65 - his first sub-70 round on the European Tour since February - to move to six under for the tournament.
The 2016 Masters champion's round featured seven birdies and a sole bogey at the seventh.
"I'm working hard," he told the European Tour's official website. "There's still a lot of bad shots in there. The good is kind of creeping in, we're still trying to eliminate a few of the bad rights but the processes are better and what we're working on is feeling better."
Scotland's Connor Syme, one of six Walker Cup players in action this week, made the cut on his professional debut after shooting a 69 to sit on five under.
However, David Boote, Scott Gregory and Jack Singh Brar missed out by one shot on two under, with Jack Davidson and Alfie Plant much further adrift.
Andy Sullivan, the 2015 champion and runner-up last year, will also have the weekend off after adding a 72 to his opening 70 to finish on level par.
Watch the Portugal Masters throughout the weekend live on Sky Sports Golf. Live coverage continues on Saturday from 1pm.