McKibbin makes the cut on the number as Wiebe hits the front in Italy

Mark McGowan

Tom McKibbin (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)

Mark McGowan

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Tom McKibbin had to cover his final nine holes in one-under to make the cut on the number as Adriatic Golf Club has proven to be a tough opponent at this week’s Italian Open.

The Holywood man suffered a late bogey spurt on day one, and nine straight pars to begin round two left him on the outside looking in with nine holes to go. But birdies at 11 and 12 offered some breathing space, and though he’d give shots back on 13 and 16, a final birdie on 15 was enough to see him through by the minimum.

Eight shots off the lead, a weekend charge is not yet out of the question, though it’s a big ask on a golf course that is taking few prisoners when missing the fairway.

Gunner Wiebe will take a one-stroke lead after carding a second round 69 at Adriatic Golf Club.

The American started the second day in a three-way tie for the lead on seven under after his first round of 64 but had to remain patient after a level par front nine, with a bogey on the 17th cancelling out a gain on the 15th.

He made his second birdie of the day on the first hole, his tenth, and then birdied the par four fifth to move to two under on the day. The 35-year-old parred his final four holes to sign for a nine under par total after 36 holes, one stroke ahead of Germany’s Jannik de Bruyn.

“I don’t think any of us had the chance to play boring,” said Wiebe. “The conditions were really tough. The course is starting to firm up quite a bit. You just have to pay attention. There’s not really a shot where you can – I don’t want to say mail it in – but you have to be on your mental side from the get-go with how tricky the wind was. Not near as boring, but tactical. Arguably, I might have played better today than yesterday. You can judge by score, sure, but I think the way I played today was a bit sharper.

“I think if you get off in the morning, some of the guys that have an earlier time tomorrow, with the wind down, there might some chances to get out and score. If the weather maintains and the wind stays up, I think you’ll see a pretty condensed leaderboard and probably a lot of guys who will have a chance. Whether it’s me or somebody else, someone is going to have to play very good the last two rounds to hold the trophy.”

De Bruyn was a late entrant to this week’s event as he was initially set to take part in the European Challenge Tour’s La Vaudreuil Golf Challenge. The Q-School graduate is making the most of his opportunity this week, carding a second consecutive round of 67 to sit in second place.

One stroke further back on seven under are last week’s KLM Open runner-up Marcus Kinhult, Denmark’s Sebastian Friedrichsen, Adrian Otaegui of Spain and South African Brandon Stone.

Canada’s Aaron Cockerill and Shubhankar Sharma of India share seventh on six under, while 14 golfers are tied for ninth place on five under par, including home favourites Edoardo Molinari and Andrea Pavan.


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