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Pieters grabs halfway lead at Spanish Open

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: May 17, 2014

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Belgium's Thomas Pieters, the world number 690, produced a storming finish to his second round to claim the halfway lead in the Spanish Open at PGA Catalunya.

Pieters was two over par for the day after 10 holes, but birdied five of the next seven to come home in 31 for a second successive 69, despite playing in the windier afternoon conditions.

That gave the 6ft 5in 22-year-old, who secured his European Tour card via the qualifying school on the same course in November, a six under par halfway total and one-shot lead over Holland's Joost Luiten and England's Eddie Pepperell.

Luiten had earlier shrugged off a warning for slow play to card a 69 and join Pepperell on five under par, a target which did not look like being beaten until Pieters' late charge.

The group of Luiten, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Francesco Molinari were put on the clock by tournament officials after falling out of position, with Luiten given a first "bad time" for taking too long on his second shot to the seventh.

A second transgression would have meant a one-shot penalty, but the Ryder Cup hopeful went on to birdie the 542-yard par five and picked up another shot on the ninth, his final hole.

"I didn't know we were on the clock for two holes to start with and then she (an R&A rules official) came up and said you had a bad time," said Luiten. "Someone was talking so I had to step out of the shot. It was only one bad time so I knew I could not do it again but I made a nice birdie at the end of that hole so it was okay.

"You have your routine and if you don't have to step out of the shot you are in time so I didn't really worry about it."

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