Only 36 holes were required for the Open de España to take on an intense Spanish flavour, much to the delight of the local fans who have loyally followed the Armada from the start of the competition.
The sensational performances from the biggest Spanish names has made the tournament something of a national duel for the time being, with Rafael Cabrera-Bello and Adri Arnaus co-leading on -11 and closely followed by Samuel del Val (-10) and Jon Rahm (-9).
The Spanish threesome were followed by a huge crowd and the connection between the golfers and the local fans created a vibrant atmosphere in the day’s star group. Adri Arnaus, Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Jon Rahm, as they did in the first round, reduced the course to its knees in an unforgettable display of power and precision.
A seemingly unfazed Rafael Cabrera-Bello deserves a special mention for going bogey-free, as he did yesterday, with a stunning series of great escapes that helped him maintain his place at the top of the leaderboard with a card of 6 under par.
Adri Arnaus responded with another performance to remember. Such is his determination that a bogey on the 2nd did nothing to dent his confidence in his aggressive but attractive game and he went on to steal 5 shots from the course between the 4th and 10th holes, dazzling the fans and catapulting him up the leaderboard, also benefitting from a disappointing day for the Norwegian Kristian Johannessen, leader after the first round.
A spectacular eagle on the 14th and an untimely bogey on the last, his only error of the day, capped off an outstanding round that was rewarded with a share of the lead. In the same group, trying to keep up with the frantic pace of his playing partners, Jon Rahm took a knock with a double bogey on the 2nd hole and then ground out 3 birdies on the front nine to keep him in the hunt.
The Basque, as demanding on himself as ever, was not happy with his day’s work, irked by a bogey on the 16th that cancelled out one of seven birdies on his card, the last of them on the 18th, where earlier José María Olazábal was given a standing ovation after missing the cut in what will be his last Open de España unless he is granted an invitation in the future.
Far from the cheers and the crowds, and teeing off almost at the same time as the star group, but on the other side of the course, Samuel del Val let his golf do the talking. The player from Alicante, who cut his teeth in tournaments all over the world, lies in third place at the halfway mark with a total of 10 under par through 36 holes. A sole blemish on his ninth hole became a mere anecdote in the context of a solid and convincing performance that included seven birdies that helped him wrestle a place in Saturday’s final group from the arms of Jon Rahm and give the Spanish fans even more to dream about.