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Pieters moves into lead in Spain
Girona, Spain (SportsNetwork.com) - Thomas Pieters carded a 3-under 69 on Friday to move into the lead of the Open de Espana.
Pieters finished 36 holes at PGA Golf de Catalunya at 6-under-par 138. Pieters, who is seeking his first career win on the European Tour, had made the cut in just one of his previous eight starts, tying for eighth at the Maybank Malaysian Open.
"I think I'm good enough and it had to show today. I didn't think that 6-under after two days would be leading, but it's a tough course, the rough is really high and the greens are firm enough," said Pieters. It's the first time I'm in first position. I'm happy to be here and excited for tomorrow."
First-round leader Eddie Pepperell managed a 1-under 71 during his second round to fall into a tie for second place with Joost Luiten (69) at 5-under 139.
Alvaro Quiros (67), the 2010 winner, Richard Bland (68) and Richie Ramsay (72) are tied for fifth at 3-under, while Miguel Angel Jimenez (73) and Paul Lawrie (72) shared eighth at minus-2.
Pieters entered the day a stroke behind overnight leader Pepperell, and fell further behind with back-to-back bogeys at the 10th and 11th, his first two holes.
He traded birdies at the 12th and 15th with bogeys at the 13th and 17th to make the turn at 1-under.
He then found his stride during an inward 31 to race to the top of the leaderboard, starting with three straight birdies from the second to move to 4-under.
Another gain at the seventh pulled him even with clubhouse leaders Pepperell and Luiten before Pieters made it two birdies in a row at the eighth to claim the outright lead at 6-under. He parred the ninth to maintain his 1-stroke lead heading into the weekend.
Pepperell had earlier raced out of the gate with consecutive birdies at the 10th and 11th before converting an eagle at the 12th to vault to 8-under.
He found trouble from there, however, as he tripped to a double-bogey 6 at the 14th and dropped another shot at the 18th to turn at 5-under.
After bouncing back with consecutive birdies at the second and third, he posted bogeys at the fourth and eighth to fall back to minus-5.
"It was a great start and I hit some really nice shots early," Pepperell said. "But it was an up and down day for me. I hit some good shots in the early part of the round, but there were also some poor ones."
Luiten also started on the back nine and countered a bogey at the 11th with an eagle at the 12th, moving him to 3-under.
Consecutive birdies at the 14th and 15th jumped him to 5-under, but he gave those shots right back with bogeys at the 16th and 18th. He would par his next six holes before closing his round with birdies at the seventh and ninth to join Pepperell at minus-5.
NOTES: Alastair Forsyth recorded a hole-in-one at the fifth ... Defending champion Raphael Jacquelin carded an even-par 72 on Friday and sits in a tie for 26th place at 1-over-par 145 ... The cut line fell at 4-over-par 148, with 77 players advancing to the weekend.
05/16 15:04:31 ET
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