Evergreen Jimenez earns lead

The evergreen Spaniard has been suffering from a bout of flu during the week, but that did not stop him carding seven birdies over the Black Mountain course as he reached 11 under for a one-shot lead over Kiradech Aphibarnrat.

Jimenez started at the 10th on day two and birdied three of his first six holes before following a run of four straight pars with back-to-back birdies at the second and third.

The 51-year-old then birdied the sixth and seventh for the second day running, but he blotted his card for the first time at the ninth – the scene of his entertaining dance on Thursday after he had holed his approach for a memorable eagle-two.

???I???m very happy,??? Jimenez told the European Tour. “I am disappointed to make bogey on the last but overall I played very solid and made a lot of birdies.

“I was hitting shots right at the flags today. You need to be in the right places on the greens to put the ball on the right side of the hole, because the putts are very fast – I like it.

???I have the flu and I???m very bunged up and slept terribly last night, but apart from that I???m fine.”

Despite his late error, Jimenez had still done enough to earn the 36-hole lead over powerful Thai ace Aphibarnrat, who birdied his last three holes to return a second-straight 67.

Aphibarnrat, loooking to atone for his seven at the last in the first round, also matched his day one eagle at the second and made six birdies overall while littering his card with three dropped shots.

His veteran compatriot Thongchai Jaidee also proved, like Jimenez, that age is no barrier to competing on the European Tour as he fired an impressive 66 which included six birdies in nine holes around the turn – his only blemish coming at the par-five 13th.

Jimenez joined Canada’s Richard T Lee (67) and Australian Scott Hend (68) in the clubhouse on nine under, while English duo Tom Lewis and Matthew Baldwin both handed in six-birdie 67s to get to within three of the lead.

Overnight leader Michael Hoey could not sustain his form of the first round as he scrapped his way to a level par 72, but the Northern Irishman is still in good shape as he heads into the weekend alongside Lewis, Baldwin, Johan Carlsson and Jeunghun Wang on eight under.

In-form Scot Marc Warren lost ground on the leaders as he bogeyed two of his last three holes to close on four under after a 71, while Ryder Cup star Thomas Bjorn is a further shot adrift after an error-strewn 72.

The Dane got off to a great start when he followed an opening birdie with an eagle at the second, but he bogeyed three of the next five holes and then ran up a double-bogey five at the short 11th to leave himself facing a battle to make the cut.

But Bjorn finished strongly with birdies at the 16th and 18th to return to three under, while Simon Dyson and Scott Jamieson were among those who made the weekend with nothing to spare on two under par.

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