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Monday 18 December 2017

McGinley turns up heat in Malaga

Paul McGinley could not live with the pace set by Welshman Rhys Davies last week but it was a different story for both of them when the Andalucian Open resumed in Malaga today.

Former Ryder Cup hero McGinley, in his second event back from a sixth knee operation last November, went to the turn in his second round in a three-under-par 33 and was only one behind leaders Soren Kjeldsen and Richard Finch.

Davies, on the other hand, was in severe danger of missing the halfway cut five days after his maiden European Tour victory when he covered the same nine holes in 40. Four bogeys left the 24-year-old four over par, with the axe likely to fall on anybody not level par or better.

McGinley, now 43, included an eagle three at the 521-yard 14th in his run, but Kjeldsen matched that with a 30-foot putt as he continued his bid to win the title for a second successive year.

Former Irish Open champion Finch was playing with McGinley and he covered the back nine in 32 to share the lead on six under. He and Kjeldsen were one in front of McGinley and Scots Paul Lawrie and Peter Whiteford.

Meanwhile, Ernie Els got his feet wet on Friday to continue his run of impressive pre-Masters form by grabbing a share of the second round lead at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

The South African's solid three under par round of 69 at Bay Hill was enough to move him in a tie for the lead on seven-under with American trio DJ Trahan, Ben Curtis and Davis Love III.

It could have been very different for Els if he had not made a remarkable recovery from a water hazard on the sixth.

"I hit it really solid but I pulled it. I almost made it but it pitched just on the bank and rolled back into the water," said Els, who then took his shoes and socks off to play out of the shallow water.

"But I could play it and I chipped out of the water, played a four iron just right of the green and I was up and down for par. I was a yard away from probably not being in the tournament anymore because that would have been a sure double-bogey and I would be back to even-par and in a battle to make the cut."

Els went on to make six birdies and a bogey in the rest of his round to set up what he called "a very interesting weekend". The leading quartet are just a stroke ahead of Els' compatriot Retief Goosen, world No3 Phil Mickelson and American Kevin Na.

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