Italian Job: Molinari and Migliozzi lead the way at Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Italian duo Guido Migliozzi and Francesco Molinari were keen to get their 2023 Ryder Cup qualification off to a fine start, with the pair finishing top of the leaderboard after round two of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

The duo came into this event fresh from their outstanding displays at last week’s inaugural Hero Cup, where they both delivered 3.5 points and finished unbeaten as Continental Europe defeated Great Britain and Ireland 14.5-10.5 over three days of competition.

And they were on top form again on day two at Yas Links Abu Dhabi, finishing strongly to reach ten under par at the halfway stage of the first Rolex Series event of the season.

After Molinari had shot a second successive 67 in the morning courtesy of six birdies on his back nine, Migliozzi closed his second-round 69 with a hat-trick of birdies to join him at the summit.

“If I’m completely honest, I didn’t feel as comfortable as I did yesterday on the course but more comfortable toward the end,” said Molinari.

“Like I was saying before, when you’re not maybe extremely confident in my game yet, it’s nice to see that even after a rough couple of holes, I can get back to doing my own thing and hitting some good golf shots.

“To be honest I think I’ve been making progress the whole of last year. Obviously I was falling a long, long way back. So you can’t turn it around in just a couple of weeks. Yeah, just this winter, a couple of small changes. Yeah, just some good work at home. It’s just as simple as that, some quality work at hole. It was obviously nice last week to play well under pressure and that’s at the end of the day the only way to gain, really, confident in my game.”

As the wind strengthened in the afternoon, no-one was able to catch the Italian pair at the top, with Jason Scrivener their nearest challenger on nine under after mixing four birdies with two bogeys in his 70.

Alexander Levy, making his return to action after 11 months out due to a back injury, is among those on eight under, with fellow Frenchman Victor Perez, Swede Alexander Björk, South African George Coetzee and Scotland’s Scott Jamieson.

Darkness descended on Yas Links with round two incomplete, therefore those still with holes to play will return on Saturday to finish their rounds. Round three will be a one tee start, not before 8:00am local time.

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