Paul Dunne leads Open de Espana by three as Jon Rahm stays in touch

Paul Dunne opened up a three-shot lead at the halfway stage of the Open de Espana after he fired a superb 65 on a second day of excellent scoring in Madrid.

Leaderboard

Open de Espana

With preferred lies in operation for the second round at Centro Nacional de Golf, Dunne took advantage of the rain-softened course to card nine birdies as he hit the front on 13-under par.

Paul Dunne will take a three-shot lead into the weekend
Paul Dunne will take a three-shot lead into the weekend

Dunne’s early clubhouse lead did not come under serious threat from the afternoon starters as the Irishman remained three clear of Callum Shinkwin, Nacho Elvira and Brett Rumford, while home favourite Jon Rahm is just four off the pace after returning a 68.

Chasing his first win since holding off Rory McIlroy at the British Masters last autumn, Dunne got off to a great start with birdies at 10 and 12, and further gains at the 15th and 17th helped him cover the back nine in 32.

The 25-year-old offset another birdie at the first with his first blemish of the day at the next, and he pulled away from Elvira with three birdies in a row from the fifth before he three-putted the eighth green for bogey.

But Dunne responded by nailing a 20-foot birdie putt at his final hole to get back to 13 under, while Shinkwin completed 36 holes with just one bogey on his card as he matched his opening 67 to join Elvira (66) and Rumford (66) in a share of second place.

Rahm will be happy with his position heading into the weekend after he fired a 68 blighted by one big mistake at the 12th, where his approach from an awkward lie bounded over the green and into the water, leading to a double-bogey six.

The world No 4 had earlier treated the vast galleries to a perfect start when he eagled the first hole, although a birdie at the long fifth was his only other gain in a solid, outward 33.

Jon Rahm is just four behind as he chases a first victory on home soil
Jon Rahm is just four behind as he chases a first victory on home soil

Rahm birdied 11 and 13 either side of his disappointment at the 12th, and he was then fortunate to be able to save par at the 15th when he was indebted to playing partner Andrew “Beef” Johnston for finding his ball buried in the deep rough to the left of the fairway.

The 23-year-old closed with a birdie at the last to move to nine under alongside Marc Warren (69), Henric Sturehed and English journeyman Robert Rock, who birdied four of the last six holes to cap an eight-birdie 65.

Defending champion Andrew Johnston is five behind
Defending champion Andrew Johnston is five behind

Defending champion Johnston is just one stroke further adrift after he made his fifth birdie of the round at the 18th to post a second straight 68, while his compatriot Andy Sullivan vaulted to six under for the tournament after a stunning 63.

The Ryder Cup star needed to go low to avoid an early exit following his opening 75, but Sullivan carded four birdies and an eagle in a back-nine 30 and followed another birdie at the first with his second eagle at the fifth before parring in to complete a faultless day.

But Sullivan’s Hazeltine team-mate Rafael Cabrera-Bello missed the halfway cut by a single stroke after missing out on the birdie he needed at the last and settling for a 68 to finish on three under par.

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