Bjorn shares second-round lead in Portugal


European TourESTORIL, Portugal – Thomas Bjorn and Carlos Del Moral share the lead at 12 under after the second round of the Estoril Open at Penha Longa.

For Bjorn, the two-time European Ryder Cup player, his 7-under 65 marked a welcome return to form after a long slump that has coincided with the duties he undertakes as the chairman of the European Tour's Players Committee.

The last of his nine tour victories was at the Irish Open back in 2006 and before playing all four rounds last week in the Wales Open he had missed six straight cuts.

Bjorn actually held the outright lead at 13 under until the 18th hole when a poor drive ended up in the trees. After missing the par-5 green with a straightforward fairway approach he recorded a bogey.

“The first 17 holes of my round I hit every fairway and only missed one green,” Bjorn said. “I was really steady and golf felt easy for once, which is a new feeling.

“I have felt I have been playing a bit better recently and I just needed to hole some putts to get momentum. In both of the two rounds here in Portugal I have holed a couple of early putts to get that momentum I needed.”

The 24-year-old Del Moral, ranked 524th in the world, thought his 65 owed much to a radical rethink about his attitude toward the sport after missing the cut at last month's Spanish Open.

“I decided I need to be fitter and started running,” Del Moral said. “I needed more energy for hilly courses like this one and I don't think I have ever felt so fit as I have done over the first two days here.”

England's Steve Webster shot a second straight 67 to get within two shots of the leaders and share third place with countryman Robert Coles and Damien McGrane of Ireland, who could only follow his opening 64 with a 2-under 70.

Rookie Englishman Luke Goddard, the former Walker Cup player who had shared the first-day lead with McGrane, fared even worse in the second round with a 1-over 73 dropping him down into a share of 15th place.

Chris Wood, the pre-tournament favorite and highest-ranked player in the field at 81, shot a second straight 69 to reach 6 under and lie 6 off the lead.