McKibbin eleven back as super Soderberg takes command in China

Ronan MacNamara

Tom McKibbin (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

Ronan MacNamara

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Sebastian Söderberg continued his rich vein of form to hold a three-shot lead at the halfway stage of the Volvo China Open.

The Swede currently leads the Asian Swing, which concludes after this event at Hidden Grace Golf Club, following successive runner-up finishes at the Hero Indian Open and ISPS HANDA – CHAMPIONSHIP.

Söderberg admitted he was aiming to make his US PGA Championship debut at Valhalla Golf Club – the top three in the Asian Swing Rankings will earn a place if not already exempt – later this month after an opening round of 63, and he supported that effort with 65 on Friday.

He carded eight birdies and one dropped shot to move to a 16 under par total which no one could match, sitting three clear of England’s Paul Waring.

Söderberg said: “It’s important to focus on my own game and not worry about how others are doing. It’s going to be a mental challenge over the weekend for sure.

“I feel pretty confident with my game at the moment, but obviously the pressure will be a lot higher with me at the top of the leaderboard heading into the weekend. I really need to keep my emotions in check and hopefully I can get over the line.

“I know what it takes to win out here and I’ve been in contention over the last two weeks. I’m going to stay as calm as possible.”

Söderberg was flawless in Thursday’s 63, which saw him share the overnight lead with Frenchman Romain Langasque, and he made a rapid start with a pair of gains at the tenth and 11th followed by another brace at the 13th and 14th.

That carried the World Number 98 to 13 under, but he improved further by finishing his front nine in 30 thanks to a birdie-birdie finish.

He carded his only bogey of the opening two rounds at the first to drop back briefly, but responded by hitting approaches to inside six feet at the sixth and eighth to climb to 16 under.

Waring began the day three shots adrift of Söderberg and Langasque and instantly got into the red numbers with a birdie at the first.

Just like the opening hole, he picked up a shot at the fourth for the second day running and when he rolled in gains at the seventh and ninth, he was in double figures.

He blotted his card at the tenth with a bogey, but responded brilliantly with a hat-trick of birdies from the next to climb up the leaderboard before Waring added his eighth and final birdie at the 17th to become Söderberg’s closest challenger.

He said: “I’m very happy with my first 36 holes. I’m driving it great and my wedges have been good. There are a lot of birdie chances out there if you can get it in play off the tee and hit your wedges close.”

Three-time DP World Tour winner Guido Migliozzi is one further adrift at 12 under, while Switzerland’s Joel Girrbach registered a flawless 67 to head into the weekend at 11 under alongside Spaniard Adrian Otaegui and Czech Gordan Brixi.

Filipino Lloyd Jefferson Go and South African Zander Lombard are one shot further back, with Austria’s Matthias Schwab and Frenchman Frederic Lacroix at nine under.

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