Alexander Noren has the clubhouse lead in the second round of the Wales Open after the Swede birdied four of the last five holes in a 4-under 67 at Celtic Manor on Friday.
Noren, whose sole tour victory since turning professional six years ago came at the 2009 European Masters, was at 8 under, two strokes ahead of Victor Dubuisson (69) and overnight leader Keith Horne of South Africa, who was 1 over for the day after six holes.
Following behind were two former Ryder Cup players making unlikely attempts to return to former glories.
Barry Lane of England, who turns 51 later this month, shot a 69 to sit at 5 under in his 673rd career event on the circuit as he bids to become the oldest winner on the European Tour. Des Smyth currently holds that honor, the Irishman was 48 when he won the Madeira Island Open in 2001.
Lane, a member of the 1993 Ryder Cup team at The Belfry, looked at long odds to make the cut in the opening round before holing five birdies on the back nine to come home in 30 shots. He followed that up on Friday with two birdies before and after the turn.
Fellow countryman Paul Broadhurst needed an invitation to the event after losing his tour card last year, but three straight birdies from No. 11 in a 72 led him to 4 under. His only Ryder Cup appearance was in 1991 at Kiawah Island.
Defending champion Graeme McDowell bogeyed No. 1 to drop to 3 under after six holes, while his Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie (79) collapsed to equal last place at 15 over – his worst halfway score in Europe since shooting 17 over at the 1991 Benson and Hedges International.
The 47-year-old Montgomerie failed in a qualifying tournament for the U.S. Open at Washington’s Congressional course from June 16-19, and he needs to get through another qualifier next week to ensure he doesn’t miss out on The British Open next month for the first time since his debut in 1990.
Last week, Montgomerie had a share of seventh place at the BMW PGA Championship for his first top-10 finish in almost three years. But having opened with a 78 on Thursday, he dropped six shots in the first eight holes of his second round to finish the back nine in 41 strokes.
”Playing well last week, I felt I could perform well again but I just played awful – and I’m very disappointed not to be playing at the weekend, never mind contending,” Montgomerie said. ”It’s unfortunate but that’s the way it is, and I have to accept that sometimes.”
Playing partner Miguel Angel Jimenez, a member of Montgomerie’s Ryder Cup team, also had his travails with the course and lost his temper when his lay-up shot at No. 18 went into the frontside lake. The Spaniard chucked his yardage book to the ground and then gave it a massive kick.
Jimenez hit a 72 to be 3 over and is set to miss out on playing at the weekend with the projected cut at 1 over.